Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I can't believe I'm responsible for children

My biggest fear about moving to Taiwan and teaching English for a year was the fact that I would actually HAVE to teach English. Although it is my first language, the extent of my knowledge of English grammar ends at nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Anything else is a crapshoot. Surprisingly, however; I have managed to fake my way through each class quite successfully.

The first class I taught was the absolute worst. The kids stared at me blankly the entire time and refused to answer any questions when I called on them. Even though it took me a couple hours to prepare my lesson plan, I had to constantly check the teacher's guide to see what I was supposed to do next. Not to mention my Chinese Co-Teacher (CT) would constantly have to correct me. At the end of class when I asked her what I could improve upon, she just kind of shook her head and sighed.

I can say with some excitement that it has all been uphill since then. It only takes me about 30 minutes to prepare a lesson plan now, and I am even starting to remember some of my students names.

The way the Hess system works is as follows. I teach in the evenings at what are called buxibans, or cram schools. The kids attend regular school during the day, and will then go to a cram school straight after to be tutored in English, math, science, piano, or any other number of things. They attend English school at Hess twice a week; of which I teach them once and my CT teaches the other day. I am not there when the CT teaches because I am teaching another class of kids. I teach about 24 hours a week, or 12 different classes. As you can probably imagine, it's very difficult to keep all the kids, classrooms, homework, and CT's straight.

What is most surprising to me is how much I actually enjoy my job. To be fair, it can be quite stressful and the kids can get on your nerves a bit; but I believe this might be the job I can see myself doing for more than just a few months!

My younger kids are especially a joy to be around. Even though their English is not great, they are all very expressive and absorb everything I teach them like a sponge. During break time they love to show me their toys and hang all over me. The boys love to fight me and the girls like to pet the hair on my arms and stare at my blue eyes. A couple girls in particular will always approach me and say "Lian Bi (blue eyes)." I respond by pulling my eyes apart really tight and saying "Taiwanese eyes." They squeal with laughter and run away.

I'm not sure how I feel being something of an anomaly to them.


At September 7, 2007 at 2:37 AM , Blogger steph said...

i can't believe they let you teach children either. maybe the screening process isn't as rigid as it should be.

miss your face, freak.



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