I can work out all the "U" pictures except for the falling log man! What word beginning with "U" is he meant to be describing??
I started my trainer-training at Robert's School by observing each of the three Chinese in-house trainers in action. As you can see in the photo, they only have a few new teachers on each cycle and the course is therefore nicely informal and personalised. The three trainers are excellent teachers in their own right, especially with the younger students, with whom most of the Chinese teachers have their lessons (classes of older students are usually taught by foreign teachers).
However, none of them has any specific background in training and so they are keen, if a little nervous, to get feedback and advice. The present course has evolved into a largely didactic passing-on of how each lesson should be taught, right down to standardised gestures and umpteen steps for every moment of the class, which cannot be deviated from. I think I’d like to adapt it so that new teachers work out the most successful methods for themselves and, in doing so, understand why they are the best ways, more than simply being told so. This means having open-ended activities, worksheets to complete and group discussions where the new teachers can suggest their own answers and give their own opinions and ideas. Not a particularly Chinese way of doing things but one which, as teachers, we should already be encouraging our students to do in our lessons...
It's that time of year again when hundreds of peasant workers descend on Kunming's trees and paint the bottom of the trunks white. But why?
The simple answer is, nobody really seems to know! Everyone has their own theory - to protect them from bright sunlight. to prevent the bark cracking, it looks beautiful, it stops insects crawling up, it stops cars hitting them, Chinese tradition, etc. Whatever the reason, the Government spends a huge sum each Winter decorating thousands of Kunming trees. Odd, to say the least!
JD's Primary School celebrated their 80th Anniversary last week with various games, exhibitions and ceremonies. At first, JD was convinced the school was 8 years old until we showed him the black and white photos of the school's first students in 1940.
Can you spot the school's only foreign student in the picture above?
I spent yesterday being one of 8 judges at the Provincial Speaking Competition Final (7 Professors and the obligatory foreigner!). With 36 contestants from all over Yunnan, it was a long affair - we started at 7.30am and finally finished for "lunch" at 3.00pm. I was asked to be the Question Master, posing an appropriate follow-up question based on their prepared speech and before their impromptu speech. So no chance to "drift off" either!
Before it all started, we were given a complex briefing on the elements we should be judging on (content appropriateness, fluency, body language, grammar, pronunciation, speech structure, intonation, confidence, etc) but then told that actually it was only necessary to give ONE overall mark, and it had to be 70-95%!? The topic was "The Challenges of 2020" and most talks focused on COVID-19 and how wonderfully the Chinese people have coped with it! The Oral English standards were pretty high though, and nobody "dried up". The three top candidates now go on to National Finals in Beijing.
This was my favourite opening...
and not having searched for anything exercise bike related! How do they know??
We have kept in touch over the 15 years since then. I even visited her once during a typhoon when she was studying at Hainan University!
Cinderella is now married, a mother and a teacher in her own right at the school where I first met her as a student. Recently she asked me to give an online talk and Q&A to her senior school students. The first two attempts were thwarted by power cuts in her school but we finally managed to connect last week and I was faced with a large class of expectant and excited students, full of questions for "the foreigner"!
But JD was keen to dress up, eat sweets and play scary games, so I put together a simple costume and prepared some fun activities for him and some of his friends to do. Better than nothing!
Past blog entries