Friday, August 04, 2006

Fridays just aren't the same...

... without the weekends off. As it stands, I thought my Sunday was looking decent, but it turns out I have a 3-hour class in the morning and a 2h10m class in the afternoon. 9-12, then 1-3:10. Ugh.

Monday is off, and Tuesday is as well but it's not considered "off" as it's a prime day for planning for the week. Next week is, I hope, my last insane week.

Things are going really well. Teaching is great, but I DETEST planning. It's like trying to forecast tomorrow's weather by licking your finger and sticking it up in the air the day before. Some classes eat through material, and other days... they languish on five minutes of lesson plan material/exercises.

Ex: I spent 25 minutes with my 10-11 year olds yesterday morning going through "If I HAD a ball, I WOULD play catch" (conditional tense) sentences. It just wasn't okay to combine past tense with future conditional. The Chinese mind was just about blown. And today the keeners hated picking film jobs (actor, dancer, singer, cameraman/woman, director, writer) while the quiet ones had a blast. The purpose was to try to convince one of the students (the producer) to hire them. I'd have thought they'd have eaten it up! Not so. The one girl named the movie "Sue and Victor" (two of the students) and that ended the fun for Sue who wanted her "di'ni'y" (dignity) and decided to "reshine" (resign). In a huff, I might add.

My teenage class is doing really well consistently, on the other hand. I've found the fine line between wielding the rod of authority and joking with my students and being called by my first name instead of "teacher". I had them in stitches today by tossing no few anecdotes about injuries and Canadian comparisons to various Chinese traditions. I finally really and truly understand and relate to Mr. Clancy's teaching style: toss in-your-face-ludicrous comments out and watch the class cannibalize each other in debate. It's like a sucker-punch. They love debating, and it even draws the quiet ones out. That class ends tomorrow, though. Next week at the same time I pick up a conversational class, meaning there is no book or serial lesson scheme. They are there only to talk, so it's all role-playing exercises and discussion topics. I act as English moderator more than a teacher.

The last two nights, Alistair and I have watched movies after work. We hit Rambo: First Blood on Weds, and Rambo II last night. Classics. DVDs cost like 10 yuan ($1.50), so he has a stockpile, as does the school and the other teachers. Duncan and Michelle are obsessed with the series 'Lost' (they have both 1st and 2nd seasons boxed sets). These cheap DVDs give us a great excuse to go "hey, I've never seen this movie... may as well buy it". It can be hit and miss, but there's a scale of quality on the DVDs. DVD-5... you roll the dice. DVD-9 is high quality. I might see if I can find Hard Boiled, since I haven't seen that in ages, and Alistair has never seen it.

Not much else happening, really. Just working on getting through the days in good humour (which is easier now that I've found my teacher's legs) and getting enough sleep. I've lost a bit of weight, but not much, and I spotted a tai ji qian school. Now if I could only remember where it was... I saw it when I accompanied Duncan on his phone card odyssey that ate up 45 minutes and took us all over Tangshan last week.

Nick's heading for a night and day in Beijing on Sunday night, and I think a number of other teachers are going. I don't think I will. Cost isn't too big an issue, but being gone from Sunday night til Monday night, with Tuesday for 5 days of planning... too busy. I'll hop along on the next trek, since they tend to happen monthly. Things are simply too busy at the moment.

When things slow down (after next week), I'll look into more formal Chinese instruction, either kung-fu or tai ji qian and RELAX a bit. Wow, this was a long post. Talk to you folks later - time for a beer with Nick - and happy Friday morning.

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