It is important to remember that York is a training school and not a regular public one. The hours you work are based after the public schools have closed and we pick up where they left off. We are primarily centered on practicing students speaking as this is something they rarely do, especially with someone who has the perfect pronunciation that we clearly all have.
The tests are heavily weighted to speaking and it is this that makes up a student’s exam score, between either fifty or sixty percent depending on their level and this is expected in class when we plan lessons. One of the hardest parts of teaching in an environment where the chairs don’t need to be filled throughout a lesson is getting sixteen students all talking at once. The games are limited and generally they are all fairly similar set ups, with perhaps minor adjustments to keep students interested. The older they get the wiser they get to the similar set ups and it is up to the teacher to create new scenarios for them to practice the language.
Hip Hip Hooray
The longest class I have been teaching, perhaps fortunately my favourite class, has been my Hip Hip Hooray 4As. They are aged between eleven and twelve, with the exception of a boy genius aged 8, and they display the intelligence not only to learn the grammar I set them quickly, but also use it to make jokes and ultimately insult each other, including me.
But with this progression comes rigidity as I come to assess maybe I have played perhaps nearing a hundred different activities and games. After a while, admittedly a fresh approach might be necessary, for although I am always looking for new material to use, I regret that they might also need a fresh point of view to continue this progress.
Keeping things fresh is a key aspect of teaching, and although they enjoy my class and I enjoy teaching them, I think that a new teacher would once again keep them on their toes and introduce something different that I may have missed. For my sake too, the same familiarity with one class can become mundane and it is all too easy to rely on the same activities.
As it stands I am due to move to a new school and help promote that as it starts its own fledgling classes, something I am looking forward to; a change of scenery, a fresh environment and new classes. As of mid-September I will be saying goodbye to the branch next to XiHu lake and starting anew at Ping Dong. It will be sad to say goodbye to the students I have taught for the entire time I have been in China, but I am excited about forging new relationships with new students.