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Summer teaching plan

Dalian, China

We are planning to make the big yuan this summer. Last summer, we taught in Dalian for Aston English School. I loved Dalian and the people, but hated the whole for profit language school thing. The boss was actually the best boss I have had in China, if not the world. He was just awesome and would do anything for us, without asking.
It didn't really feel like teaching because you use a book that is more for a parrot. Teacher says something, parrot gives response. There is no thought, just this statement gets this response. Maybe over time this language method results in good communication, I dunno. Then, to make matters worse, my heart was breaking for these kids. It was summer, they should be playing. The grandmas and the parents would watch the whole class thru frosted glass. It was so much pressure for these little guys. In the younger classes, the parents would be in the class with them, pushing them to answer every question. I did see that these little kids could read at an amazingly young age, so there is something going on right. The word "elevator" and "balcony" were read by 6 year olds with no hesitation. I assume it was just from memorizing word lists, but it was quite impressive.
The thing that broke my heart the most was on the last week of class. I had this little girl all summer (6 weeks), her parents signed her up for every class there, mine, everybodies. 7 days a week, they had her in English. That actually is some big time money, well needless to say, for 6, her English was pretty good. So she could go a little beyond the basic parrot talk, so for some reason the textbook had words about daily life and showering. So I'm joking with her about oh, you need a shower, the chinese teacher was there too, and she was joking with her. And the little girl whose family must pay their whole salary so she can speak English said, that they didn't have a shower, they go on Tuesdays. She was very matter of fact, not even embarressed. It was all I could do not to cry. I still water up thinking about it and it is almost a year later. I felt so awful about joking with her, I felt so awful that the dumb book had this conversation in it that shouldn't be brought up with little kids anyway. Especially little kids in a developing country. They are learning English so they can pass some exam, go to college abroad, or work in a foriegn company. Unless they are in the hospitality industry, showers aren't going to be on the test. These children are their parents future, and they know it at such a young age. And the parents really just want the best for their kids and they see English as the way. It is just so mind-numbing. Culturally so different.
Since we built our own house from scratch, on an island. I have lived without ammenities. I know what life is like with no indoor plumbling. In fact, this winter thanks, to the housesitter losers, we didn't have plumbing 17 of the 45 days we were in USA. It is a humbling experience to try to figure out where you can shower in America. It is even more humbling to do dishes outside in the snow... Anyway, I've been there. I can tell you in my budget of priorities, water is number one. Electricity is nice, but indoor plumbing is neccessary. I can't imagine the situation where I would feel that my money is better spent on English classes for my 6 year old than a water heater. I think most apartments in China do have plumbling, it is just the water heater that is missing. I certainly wasn't going to ask the little girl to diagram her pipes or anything.
But it killed me that here we were, in this school, with all of her families dreams; learning to parrot talk. And I felt like I wasn't in a position to give her the most amazing vocabulary and language skills possible. She deserved so much more. I just gave her a hug and changed the subject.
The whole time, I worked there, I kept the adoption in the back of my mind. I kept the images of the kids I volunteered with in Shenyang in the forefront. Everyday I told myself, I'm doing this so we can adopt. I know I can't change the world, but I can change the world for one little guy. If I didn't have that big picture in my mind, I couldn't have done it. At the end of the summer, when we counted out the pile of yuan, I couldn't decide if it was worth it.
So now we are going to do the summer camp experience again. it's daunting. Poor Dalian has been hit by the world reccession and since it is the Redmond of China, the language schools are getting hit. I think they make the big money on business English for the software giants, and the kids are just a nice and steady stream of income, but I dunno. Anyway, when the software giants close/layoff, English classes are put on the backburner. So they said, that enrollment was down and they were just going to have their teachers work overtime for the summer classes instead of hiring people. yuck, overtime.
So, we decided to spread our wings and check out the South of China. We are very happy that we found a job in Anhui. I think it is a public school that is offering a summer program, so should have a different feel than the language school. The lady on the phone sounded really nice.
Our second job is in Wenzhou, or Ruian to be exact. That's going to be teenagers. We have found that job by way of recruiter. Sometimes recruiters are good, and sometimes they are fishy. So I feel a little uneasy about it.
Our plan is to go to Anhui by plane and then train the rest of the journey....

permalink written by  carseat tourist on June 19, 2009 from Dalian, China
from the travel blog: Life in Harbin as an American English Teacher
tagged Summer

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God Bless you was my first thought after reading this. Bless you for sharing the story. English.....hmmm? needed, required, but parrot talk...sorry..I can't do it...one year in Korea...very good middle school, but a few politics hurt me and other Korean teachers......but the kids are why we come to teach....bless you.......keep going

permalink written by  jeffrey on July 20, 2009

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