Week two of teaching – two more classes to go before the weekend 🙂  I’ve worked out that some classes are always going to be perfect, and others I would be as well not being there – one class on Monday and my final class yesterday being the case in point.  It’s actually quite disheartening when you realise that no matter what you do the students just aren’t going to learn- they just want to use the English period as 45 minutes to unwind before their evening meal, but I can’t take it personally – because 90% of the rest of the classes are good.

It is hard going at times – I’ve resorted now to trying to find the chinese words for some things and using those rather than trying to explain in English – however in  two classes today students did use their dictionaries to try and work out what I meant  – which was encouraging.   But every single class throws up a surprise – at the end of my morning class today, one girl came up to me and in perfect English asked if I was lonely in China……now how on earth would she even know how to ask something like that (this is in one of the lower language levels of English classes).  I was rather touched to be honest, that someone would even think to ask that.

All four classes were really good today – to the extent in two classes I ran out of time!  But the students interacted, we have a laugh and I hope I taught them something!

However the English Corner problem continues – it took place this evening and to be honest it was even worse than last week.  The students want to turn up and be able to speak English to us – to practice, to ask us questions, not to sit through a presentation on the Ukraine that even I struggled at times to understand.  It’s a little heartbreaking, as afterwards we were surrounded by students who wanted to ask us questions – in English – but we were hustled out of the room by the two English teachers who wanted to lock up.  There are two students in particular, one boy and one girl, both 16 and both who have a fairly decent command of English.  They both want to study in the US and are soooo desperate to improve their English.  To me English Corner here isn’t what it’s supposed to be about – the students learn nothing, let alone how to speak better English.  I’ve no idea to resolve this problem – last week both Tony and I said to the English teachers that we thought it should be very informal, but they persist in this presentation idea that even the students yawn their way through.

I came here to try and make a difference in my own small way – to encourage students to approach me, to talk to me, it’s a 2-way thing – I learn Chinese, they learn English.  So I am going to persist in making English Corner an informal thing – if I have to do it on my own then I will do, as there is a small group of perhaps six students who are absolutely desperate for help with their English, despite there being over 4000 students I do keep seeing the same ones over and over again – or perhaps they are following me 😉  I was able to follow my dream and come here, so if I can help these two students to make it to the US then I will do whatever it takes, even if it means giving up a bit of my own time to help them.

Tomorrow, which is supposed to be my day off this week, I am off to Yulin to go to the police station to surrender my passport.  I have to say I’m not happy about this in the slightest – I have to meet my FAO at 7am to drive to Yulin, which seems absolutely crazy to me as we will hit the rush hour traffic heading up there – even the English teacher said it was far too early and it would take us hours – apparently it’s about 100 kms away and normally only takes an hour if you leave around 9.  Me, Tony and the ubiquitous Chinese girlfriend  are going there, where basically I have to register with yet another police station, and then leave my passport – the Chinese new regulations say that all foreigners have to do this, and from what I’ve read on China Daily and other forums this is causing problems for westerners as without our passports we can’t even so much as book a bus or train journey.  I’ve no idea whether this 15 days is 15 working days or normal days, but tomorrow is the 12th and the October holiday starts on 1st October and I just cannot face a week here on my own. 

It also necessitates a 5am rise for me, and I am tired tonight – jumping around 8 different classrooms for 5 hours each day and having to laugh joke and cajoule students is hard going at times.  I’d planned a quiet day tomorrow, catching up on emails and braving the supermarket again for food – tonight’s supper was tofu (again) watery noodles (again) and some sort of meat (not pigs ears, just unidentifiable) and because the Chinese facewash I am using is quite rough, I wanted to try and negotiate the toilletry girls and try and find some decent facewash.  Trust me these things make a difference when your skin is all rough and horrible and you have to stand up in front of 50/60 people at a time!

Moan over, I’m going to bed and hopefully tomorrow won’t be as bad as I think it is going to be….as long as we don’t crash on that horrific main road up north where there seems to be a crash every day – and you wonder why I worry about the six hour bus journey on it down to Xi’an!!