Monday, November 12, 2007

Noodley Goodness

My lunch twice a week at school is usually noodles--except for the days that the cafeteria mysteriously runs out of flour and water. This is a necessity for me because most of the food in the cafeteria isn't labeled and I don't have the patience to ask, "这是什么?" twenty times. Besides, I happen to like spicy noodles with vegetables.

Most days, I go in near the end of lunch to avoid lines. This also means that fewer students are around when I eat. Today, I went in early with the crowd. To my surprise, a student sat with me. He's one of my few southern Chinese students (from Sichuan). I couldn't remember his name because I can't remember any of my students names--the fact that I only see them once every other week doesn't help much. I did realize that he is one of the quieter students in class. He wanted to know about my Chinese skills and how to improve his English (this is common from students). He told me that he's been studying English for 12 years, but I am his first foreign teacher.

I'm not surprised that for the early years of education he didn't have a foreign teacher, I was a bit surprised that he didn't have one in his undergraduate studies. Considering the method of teaching English in China, I think I understand why he doesn't speak much in class--he was probably never asked to do more than just repeat words and phrases as a group. I hope now he makes the effort to speak in my class and improve his confidence. From the short lunchtime conversation, I did find that his grammar was better than many of the more willing students.

Later in the day, I scheduled an supplementary English conversation hour for my willing students. Before anyone showed up, I placed my new eraser next to the board (I've had two taken from my class in the last week and it really screws with my lessons). I wrote a warning for the next day--"Don't touch the eraser. 小心外国人." (Beware of foreigner.) The guard walked in and laughed--we had a half-assed Chinese conversation about me having an extra class in the afternoon. Then two students showed up to talk for the next hour. They thought it was funny and a little impressive that I wrote in Chinese.

No comments: