In arranging to come to China my contract was to work at a primary school, when I got here though that was not the case and I was told that I would be teaching 7th and 8th graders at the middle school, so 12 and 13 year olds.
Children studying English in China often adopt an English name to use in lessons, thank god as there isn’t a single Chinese name that I have heard and can still remember so far! Sometimes the children pick their own names or a word that reflects or sounds similar to their Chinese name and sometimes their foreign teacher will choose them, as far as I can tell, because they are hilarious. Some of my favourite names in my class include Aristotle, Maraschino, Beryl and Absolutely. I also have a few Dragons, Candys, Chrystals and a Smile. One of the other foreign teachers here told me that she used to have a kid called Vampire Killer, just brilliant.
My first lesson with each class I introduced myself, talked a bit about my life in England and invited any questions from the kids. I got all the usual how old are you and what are your hobbies type questions, but in every single class, without fail I would have a moment when the giggling started and I could see what was coming, one kid would be pushed to stand up and ask me, while staring at the ground and blushing profusely, whether I had a boyfriend. I suppose that they are just at that age when they become obsessed with the whole boy-girl thing. My favourite question came from one of the boys in my class, he stood up, looking very abashed and asked whether I though Chinese or English men were the more “handsome kind & loving.” It was obvious what the situation called for, “Chinese men” I had replied “are definitely the most handsome kind and loving.”
So apart from their intrusive interest into my romantic history “Have you ever held hands with a boy?”, their overall confusion with the very size of me “Is there a baby in your belly?” and the awkward questions about politics the kids so far are AMAZING, so well behaved you wouldn’t believe. When I found out the class sizes here are hitting around 50 and I would be teaching independently I was a little concerned, but the children have such a lot of respect for their teachers. I think as well they want to be liked by their new foreign teacher, in my school there are 3,000 kids and I am the only foreign teacher so the 200ish children I teach are supposedly the lucky ones as they get the opportunity to practise their English with a native speaker. I try to make myself available to chat at break times to the kids, I have had more conversations this week about Twilight and Taylor Swift than I’m happy with but its nice to be able to speak with the children. I am quite pleased actually now to be teaching older children as I get more of an opportunity to speak with them than I would of with primary age kids whose English is less developed.
OK so that was a lot of me just talking about kids, next time I should have some pictures to upload of my room and the school and stuff and I can tell you a little bit more about my ‘adventures’ so far. Too many of them involve alcohol but who would have of expected otherwise?