In the same way I never anticipated singing a rainbow song to kindergarten children last weekend, I didn’t anticipate singing and dancing to the Proclamimers’ 500 Miles tonight…..good old English Corner!

English Corner to be honest is torture.  Every week Tony and I have to do SOMETHING to entertain and educate 30 students for an hour and it’s getting harder to come up with ideas.  Last week the students said they liked music and computer games, so after the two of spending an hour last night trying to find a suitable video and catchy song, I came up with the Proclaimers….

(as an aside, 99% of the music and videos that we looked at were totally unsuitable to show teenagers – I’m aware I’m going to sound like a grumpy old woman but seriously looking at lyrics many were about sex or violence, and even the most innocuous song such as a Taylor Swift ballad showed men romping around topless – not really what you want to show naive teenagers who’ve had no exposure to this before!)

Anyway, the good old Proclaimers got them moving around – a bit – but they really got into the song and by the end of the house we were all singing and clapping along 🙂  So a result for English Corner this week and a massive result for my different approach to teaching today – having told the students that they were to do their English homework and that I would come around and speak to them, the difference was truly out of this world.  My first two classes are 21 and 22, the bottom of the stream and the ones with whom I’ve had major problems.  However the classroom literally echoed to the sounds of “teacher, teacher” as they were desperate to get help with their actually quite hard homework, and I had to really think on my feet the whole day as students wanted words explained such as the difference between whom and who, this and that, and you realise that the students are only really learning English words, not what the actually meaning of the word is – again it reiterates the different methods in teaching, in that the students can read and write English but to many of them they’ve no idea what they are actually really and writing so long as they pass their exams.

There was also a lot of questions – did I have children, a husband(nope to both and a lot of female students were shocked by that), was I lonely or homesick, why was I in China.  I also realised that many of the students can speak good English, what they won’t do is speak in front of their classmates for fear of losing “face” and that if you give some of the really shy students a few minutes of your time they really do appreciate it.

However the 2nd class of the morning ended up with me rushing a female student to the doctor as she suddenly ended up with stomach pains and the 4th class of the day with a really keenie girl who wanted me to explain lots of words to the whole class.  This unfortunately didn’t really work as only about a third of the class had the new English book and many in the class wanted a bit of one-to-one help.

So, now I need to try and incorporate this change of teaching into my lessons – somehow I need to do a mix of both teaching and going around helping the students.  I’m not sure how to do that, but today proved to me that the students are not stupid nor really uninterested in my class, they don’t just want to be “spoken to” and given a boring written task to do.

So today’s been a good day 🙂  The English speaking competition I’m supposed to be judging seems to have disappeared off the radar, or in terms of Chinese communication I’ve not been told anything and will get a call at some point this week telling me to be at No 2 school in an hour!  As I’ve got Thursday off (I have every second Thursday off due to my schedule) I’m really hoping it’s not then as my food supplies are dwindling and I want to attempt to go to the big supermarket which is on 3 levels but is the one I get the most attention when I go there.

Sometimes China feels like the other side of the world, sometimes I could be lying at home in Murthly (or not my home any more!).  My schedule here has totally changed.  The internet slows down really badly from about 8.30pm so quite soon after getting here I started going to bed early, around 8.30 – 9pm is very late for me.  So I’m normally up by 6am, and as it’s minus 6/7 now I settle back into bed with a coffee and my ipad and catch up on news and Facebook (the time difference is 8 hours so it’s 10pm in the UK).  This morning I was greeted with innumerable Facebook status updates about I’m a Celebrity! 

As I’ve said before, the world really isn’t that big a place…..!