Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What teaching is like
So, some basic information about the classes I teach:
Each class meets twice a week. Once a week I teach it and a Chinese teacher is in the room to grade things and help out a little; once a week just the Chinese teacher teaches. So I only see each class once a week. Some of the Chinese teachers are really helpful and others just sit there and grade things, so it really depends. They definitely bear the brunt of the responsibility for the class, though. They are all supposed to speak excellent English and most do but the level varies. A lot of them make the same idiomatic mistakes you hear all non-native speakers make.
The class size varies- my smallest class has 9 students, and the biggest has about 22. That makes a big difference. The bigger ones get pretty wild.
The kids range in age from 6 to about 14 (in American years). But, for example, in my Level 1 (beginning) class today, there is one girl who is 6 and one who is 11. But they all get along well together. The younger kids tend to be a little more fun to work with. I have one higher-level class where the kids are older and they just sit there. But another higher-level class has younger kids and they have lots of fun.
Yes, the kids are all really cute! Especially the younger ones. But I kind of had this vision of little robot kids who would just automatically learn, and it is not that way at all. They all have strong little personalities and can get really wild- during the breaks especially, they will be banging into walls, jumping off tables, kicking each other, etc. But no one else seems to mind so I try not to. They make me nervous though.
Basically they go to normal school 9-10 hrs per day, then have cram school for 2 hrs in the evening, so they're either bouncing off walls or falling asleep. So we do lots of activities- play games, do chants, sing songs, etc. But sometimes there is just dull stuff to do.
During each 2-hr class we typically read 3 pages of a story and discuss vocab and grammar from each page; do a few pages of a patterns book where you learn a sentence pattern and substitute stuff in; some phonics; a spelling quiz; a conversation; a song; sometimes a grammar book. Then explain homework. And you figure in each of those things you need to do group and individual practice and usually play a game, plus explain things clearly in a second language. It is called a cram school because you cram as much as you can into 2 hrs. Also the kids are crammed into little rooms! It is a little tought to get used to. It makes the SAT classes I taught for Kaplan seem real low-key and slow.
I have to grade homework after each class, and they have a few quizzes & tests each class.

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