Swings and roundabouts
It's the last day of JD's week off, and so when some of JD's schoolmates invited him to join them in visiting to Kunming's biggest funfair, we could hardly reuse. I'm doing IELTS examining at the moment, so it fell to Jiajia to join the other parents on the trip.
JD is fearless when it comes to big wheels, rollercoasters, high swings, whizzing roundabouts etc. So he had a blast. They also took in a couple of shows, before sharing a big meal on the way home.
Class of '20
My University started up again this week. I've seen five new classes so far, with two more to follow in a week or two. Class sizes are about 20-30, which is a lot better than some previous classes of 50-60.
After some begging from me, all my lessons have been squeezed into Monday to Wednesday. This allows me to do IELTS examining on Thursdays and Fridays ...except that British Council have suddenly changed their examining days to Monday to Wednesday. Just my luck!
Boarding and broadening
My examining week in Lanzhou is finished and I boarded the plane to Kunming last night, tired but generally pleased with my work.
Favourite examinee errors:
"I want to travel to broaden my horizontals."
"I own a small horse now but I'd like to get a big horse when I get older so that my grandparents can live in it with me." [...house!]
Gansu, can do...
Man go Lanzhou
I flew to Lanzhou in Gansu Province yesterday (a 2½ hour flight) for a busy week of work IELTS examining with the British Council. The last time I was in Gansu was 25 years ago!!
Flashback: This day in ...2008
Another in my occasional series of "Flashbacks" looking back at blog entries made before this Weebly version started.
I was asked to do some oral English work today to help prepare half a dozen young men and women for their all-important IELTS exam which they need to pass to be able to study abroad. Unfortunately, the list of possible subjects to talk about had been translated from Chinese by a computer and most of the mangled topics left me scratching my head. See if you can work them out. My top ten . . .
Not speaking up
I'm half way through my August IELTS examining commitments. It's a long day dealing with 19-22 candidates one-by-one, each expecting their 15 minutes of 100% focus from the examiner as, for many, it can be a life-changing exam. Some barely have enough English to form a sentence, some could speak OK if it wasn't for their crippling nerves and a few are talented enough to score well.
Security is very high with metal detectors, documents signed in and out and electrical recorders locked up over lunch. And no phones or cameras are allowed in the room - hence the mocked up photo above!
Examining the examiner
Having finally qualified a couple of weeks ago, yesterday I started my new role, examining IELTS Speaking Tests for the British Council. Whilst I've practiced running dummy exams and graded recorded interviews, I've never before done both things simultaneously. It's tricky as you're aware that the things that you say, the timings of the activities (to the second) and your consequent analysis of the candidate's ability are all monitored and posthumously assessed in great detail. So I need to concentrate really hard and get everything right. And then do another one five minutes later; 20+ a day.
What's passed is past
Spent a few days this week back in ChongQing - smoggy city with a population of some 30 million. After a day of review and practice, I retook the 3-hour Certification Test and this time passed the thing. So I'm now a qualified Examiner for the British Council. I'm heading back to Kunming later today.
I flew back from my training last night, arriving home at 3am this morning, Up again at 6am to get JD to school and do two lessons at University. Unfortunately, some disappointing news was waiting for me when I got home this afternoon - I had failed the final 3-hour exam on the course. Only just, as it turns out, but it means I have to return to ChongQing next week to resit the two parts on which I didn't get close enough. Disappointing, but apparently it's fairly common for people not to get through first time.
I'm off to ChongQing today (a city with a population of over 30 million!) for a 2-day intensive training course run by the British Council. It's a 1½ hour flight away requiring an e-bike, walk, bus, plane, bus. taxi journey for me to navigate. I should be at my hotel by 1am, with the course starting early the next morning.
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
Past blog entries