JD has been working really hard these last few months. The pressure to do well (from the Chinese education system, and from his very competitive class teacher) has been immense. A typical evening has seen him (and Jiajia) working until 10-11pm to finish his homework. JD's Chinese has always been his weakness. Unlike his classmates, he operates in a world where language is split - whilst his schoolwork and homework is all in Chinese, his home life and entertainment tends to be in English. Tough.
After recent grades in mock Chinese exams of 44% and 65%, we were simply hoping for something over 70% for his final exam. But, to our surprise, he managed to get 84% in Chinese, and then 93% in Maths. Finally, a much needed reward for all his hard work. Well done, son!
This week and next sees JD's end of term exams - so even more stress and homework than usual. His after-school class takes on the brunt of the Chinese and Maths exercises with Jiajia and I giving him a little extra, personalised work at weekends.
Recent feedback from JD's teachers are that he is focusing better in class and is much-liked by staff and students alike. We are expecting top marks in English, hoping for a top ten placing in Maths and fearing he'll be bottom ten in Chinese... Fingers crossed!
Final exams this week have consisted of "Restaurant Role Plays", "Business Company Presentations" and "Job Interviews". I find the girls are usually hard-working and well-prepared while the boys often seem "less bothered" about their grades!
The biggest problem with the Powerpoint Presentations (despite it being highlighted and warned about every week for a month or more beforehand) is the use of writing which is unclear, too wordy and too small...
After a very stressful fortnight of 3-4 hours of homework every evening, JD's exam scores came back yesterday. He did really well, with "A"s in every subject (except a "B" in P.E.). The 96.1% in Chinese was particularly pleasing as JD struggles a bit with Chinese characters, coming from a family who read/speak a lot more English.
My term ended yesterday. I print out the students' grades, but then have to copy them freehand onto another a blank sheet before finally handing them in. Someone else then takes the handwritten score sheets and manually inputs them back into a University computer! This crazy process is so inefficient and has such a high potential for typos, it beggars belief! And yet no one (but me) seems willing to question it.
The Final exam for most of my classes was to prepare a 3-person role-play set in a restaurant. There were the usual grades for fluency, vocabulary, pronunciation and content, but also for props and acting. Some did well, some tried to cheat (as ever) and some were largely incomprehensible. But everyone who turned up passed - this is China!
Cometh the exams - cometh the cheats! Unfortunately Chinese students are infamous for their plagiarism and cheating. I was recently involved in marking 300 online essays. By the end, 25% were proven to have been, in part at least, copied and pasted off the internet. Today's exam went a little sour when I spotted a student peeking into her glasses case a little too often. When I crept up behind her and grabbed it, I found a "model essay" which she had printed out on tiny sheets to copy. Oddly, despite being generally better than the boys at English, it seems to be girls who cheat the most. I think the boys are just too lazy to even bother with cheating!
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