Sunday, May 20, 2007

Other things I love about Taiwan

That would be the crazy stuff that can go down in my classes, without my getting in trouble.

For example, a few weeks ago we were having "games day", which is the last lesson of a level when you basically... play games. But the games are supposed to review the whole level so they are actually pretty hard to prepare for. This particular games day was with a rambunctious class and the Chinese Teacher wasn't there for the class... it made me really appreciate the CTs! By the second hour the kids totally started to see that the games were just thinly disguised attempts to get them to learn. I kept telling them to sit down ("bums on the chair, feet on the floor" is a mantra for me now), whatever. Then in the middle of the game this kid has his head on the desk, crying, and I asked what was wrong and the other kids said "He's sad because you yelled at him." So I told the kid I wasn't mad at him, he could go to the bathroom and get a drink, but he just kept his head down and cried the rest of the period. I thought someone in the office would at least say, "You know, you can't make kids cry," but nope. No one ever said anything.

In my super-crazy class, I am always laying down rules about not hitting each other, kicking, etc. We were singing the best song in the whole Hess curriculum, this song called "Talent Show." The chorus goes "What're ya gonna do, what're ya gonna do, what're ya gonna do for the talent show?" And the verses are like "We're gonna sing a song", "We're gonna do kung fu," etc. I'd been telling them since we learned the word kung fu that they could only do kung fu in the air, and only with very small motions, and I reiterated this before we sang the song. The first day we sang it it went OK, but the second day, at the end of the song, sure enough, one of the boys has a bloody nose. The CT took him outside and they came back inside after a while and he was fine, but I was like I'm in for it now. But no. No one every told me that I shouldn't let kids punch each other in class.

One of the fun things about the songs is that you're supposed to make up "actions", kind of like coreographed moves. In the lower levels it's easy but as you get higher the songs tend to be a little bit rubbishy music-wise, and about really random things- like them one I'm writing about has someone singing about how to find the elevator. The songs always tie in with the new words and grammar they're using, and I can understand that it's hard to write a song that incorporates elevators and irregular past-tense verbs. But they can be hard to sing and a little un-fun. But this one, I put it in and it totally has a salsa beat, and the CT in that class is cool, so I'm like, "You guys want to learn a dance from America?" (eh, maybe not from America, but what do they know?) and I teach them a few salsa steps. It was hilarious- you've gotta love a country where I am an expert dancer! This class is pretty straight-laced but they had fun with it, and there is this kid, Jimmy, who's about the same age as the other kids but just really short and skinny, and he was doing so good, adding these little flourishes and stuff. Then the CT asked if it's a dance you do by yourself or with a partner, and I wound up dancing with little Jimmy. He totally hammed it up. It was so cute. So another thing that you wouldn't think would be part of English teaching, but I think it was good- it made them loosen up and I know it made them love that crazy elevator song.

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