I wasn’t sure when I arrived here a week ago whether to get back on the bus to civilisation, but I’ve survived my first week 🙂  There are a  number of issues though, which I’ll deal with later, but I had two classes today and they couldn’t be more different, which just highlights how difficult teaching in China is and how in theory these skills that I’m learning may when I come home hopefully transfer to a decent job.

Class 1 was a dream this morning.  I’ve worked out that in each of the 9 groups of 6 there will be at least one person who is absolutely desperate to speak, so I try and concentrate on that person and hope that they can relay my instructions into Chinese to them.  Class 1 had at least 8/9 kids who had brilliant English skills and we got so caught up in my “introduce each other” first part of the ,lesson that I didn’t even get onto the family part – probably no bad thing given I made someone cry with that yesterday!  Again someone told me that I had beautiful eyes and again at least 3 people asked me for my QQ address – I think it’s similar to facebook, I’ve yet to set up an account but I won’t be giving it to any students! 

One thing I’ve learnt that is so useful for breaking the ice, helping the class to relax and showing them that I’m a fun  teacher is to ask the student their name, and then try and pronounce it…… about one time out of five I will get it right and I get a round of applause- this happened in both classes today.  When I can’t say the name I just laugh at myself and the students seem to appreciate it.  I even got a hug from one female student at the end of class 1 🙂

Class 2 was totally different, and whilst it worked out fine in the end, it took a loooooong time for them to even understand my instructions about introducing themselves or their group members – even going around each table was a struggle.  However, when it came to getting them to speak it suddenly came right thankfully, with surprisingly the male students in this class being keener to talk – mainly about WWE and NBA so I politely nodded.  One thing I’d forgotten is that the Chinese love to sing – one girl student nominated a really quiet-looking girl sitting opposite her, so she stood up to sing and her voice was amazing, the whole class actually stopped talking (no mean feat with 54 students!) and that again was an ice-breaker as we were able to talk about singers……. thank goodness for reading the Daily Mail on line every morning so I have a vague idea of pop culture!

So I survived day 2 of teaching 🙂  However, these issues are starting to get me down a little.  Tony and I, the other English teacher, have been asked to do what is known as English Corner, where we sit and talk to the students informally in English.  Mark my FAO came round this afternoon and told me I’ve to do a 40 minute presentation to goodness knows how many students on Thursday evening on powerpoint.  Of course I don’t have powerpoint on my netbook, neither does Tony on his laptop, and the one in the English Teacher’s office is going to be in Chinese – although thinking about it, I’m sure I can change the language into English.  So that’s tomorrow’s task – after shopping for clothes.

The weather issue is also really stressing me out.  I spent about two hours this afternoon trying to sort out both my bank account and my paypal account – paypal have limited my acccount and we’re now on day FIVE of generic emails going back and forward – I can call them at £2 a minute on my mobile and I can see me having to do that.  Santander won’t let me link my bank account to my paypal account because of course they are being annoying and even despite my mum calling them to say I’m in China they seem to not recognise the fact that I told them numerous times I was going to China – so that’s going to be another phone call to them.

I met another teacher today who told me about the weather – basically from the middle of November until April it is around minus 10.  One of the FAOs is going to take me to two shops tomorrow who may do larger sizes, but to be honest even if I was a size 10 I’d struggle badly to find any clothes to buy because Chinese women are so tiny.  However, in the middle of writing this, Tony came in and asked me to go and see his girlfriend and using the equivalent of Ebay on China, called I think Taibo, I can order winter clothes – literally I can get a fantastic padded jacket, Ugg type boots and slipper boots for indoors for £20 🙂  I almost burst into tears, so in a couple of weeks I’m going to order some stuff and that combined hopefully with getting some clothes sent over by my mum and going to Xi’an to see whether I can get thermals and more trousers, I SHOULD be okay…. it seems to average around minus 15-20, Tony said there was ice inside his apartment for months and there is heating (I didn’t realise this because the radiators are hidden by furniture!) but it only goes on for three hours a day – but hey that’s something – and the aircon unit also seems to act as heating in the bedroom.

I told you the desert will not beat me – I may die of cold but at least I’ll have stuck it out 🙂