Archive for the ‘Teaching English’ Category

Back when I was first an English teacher, freshly minted from the CELTA course, I was assigned 4 kids classes every Sunday. While I eventually got the hang of these so-called “young learner” classes, the beginnings were rough.  I labored and fussed over lesson plans for hours, I scoured the internet for tips on classroom management, I cut and colored and glued and taped activities together. These efforts, however, did little to make up for my lack of experience, training, and confidence. Instinctively sensing my uncertainty and terror, the children tore me and my meticulously planned lessons to shreds. And every Sunday after work, I would collapse on a tiny plastic stool, exhausted, to nurse my wounds with bia hoi and spin my tales of child-inflicted woe to the other teachers present. Mitchell was one of these teachers. He had somehow been blessed by the teaching gods and was assigned no young learner or teen classes at the time.  How I envied him.  And how he looked upon the mess that was me and thanked his lucky stars that he had avoided such a fate.

That was then. Now, Mitchell has proven to be quite the child whisperer. After a delay, he was eventually assigned kids classes. With some help from his mom who has years of elementary teaching experience and his own magical powers of understanding kids, he’s turned out to be great with the youngins and prefers teaching them to adults. He’s even in charge of a new program at his school for extra young kids (ages 5-6).  Part of his job entails creating materials to aid other teachers of young children at his school.  He seems to enjoy the creativity that comes from this work and he tries to inject some humor into the work when he can. At times, he gets a little carried away.  To the chagrin of an ex-coworker, he used to place images of flying saucers randomly throughout kids workbooks. He makes crazy masks for his kids to play with at story time. He’s developed an obsession with these weird little paper puppet things.

His latest project, however, is my favorite. I begged him to let me write about it.  Presenting “Walker, Project Maker”:

For those of you who are unfortunate enough not to be Texan, this is a reference to the TV show Walker, Texas Ranger.  Walker is a uh…Texas Ranger who specializes in roundhouse kicks and moral values.  Chuck Norris, the star of the show, has inspired an entire genre of jokes.  Not jokes, facts like these:

  • Chuck once ran a race with light; he waited for 2 years before light crossed the finish line.
  • Chuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
  • Chuck Norris doesn’t call the wrong number. You answer the wrong phone.
  • When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.
  • The quickest way to a man’s heart is Chuck Norris’ fist.

Only one man can defeat Chuck Norris:  Bruce Lee.

I do feel the need to mention that these books are meant for teachers, not students. Although I imagine the kids would love these images, Mitchell avoids including violent images on kids’ materials. Untwist those panties.

Keep up the good work, Teacha Mitch.

Read Full Post »

Grading students’ English writing samples spans from boring to amusing to frustrating depending.  The essays all start blending together as students write the same cliches over and over, which isn’t surprising given the inspiring topics they’re given such as:

  • Describe your family – “I very love my family.”
  • What did you do on your last holiday? – “I went shopping, playing, drinking,…” (The overuse of … instead of “etc.” or sometimes for no reason at all is my personal teacher pet peeve.)
  • Write about your best friend – “Hiep is very interesting, suitable, popular, and fat.  I love him.”
  • Write about a dead famous person. – “Ho Chi Minh was, is, and always will be God of the universe.”

Occasionally I would try to give them a topic that they could be a little more creative with or at least something they can make funny somehow.  It was hard to get them to relax and roll with it, though.  One time I asked them to draw another student’s name out of a hat and then write a hypothetical future for that person in the hopes that they would be brutally pessimistic or think up wild scenarios or something, anything besides “he will get married and earn a good salary.”  Predictably, I almost always got the married + kids + boring job predictions, except with teenagers, who of course fashioned explosive deaths and long lonely abandoned lives for their peers.  The adults generally don’t seem too comfortable using the ol’ imagination.

Today I helped grade some tests for Mitchell’s adult elementary and pre-intermediate classes.  Sometimes the students’ mistakes are really cute or funny, so I thought I’d quote some for you.  I suppose this counts as making fun of sweet, innocent students, but not in a bad-natured way hopefully, and I’ll be the first to admit that my second language skills don’t surpass the level of a native-speaking 2 year old.  I’m barely past grunting level.  So, here are some excerpts from a day of grading.

Topic:   Write about your favorite film.

“The Titanic was fallen down by iceberg.”

“In the free time, I always see Tom and Jerry to decrease highly of study and I feel more comfortable with time when I see it.”

“The film was narrated about the scrimmage between vampire and person wolf cub.”

“In a day, when I turned on TV, I sudden saw it and my eyes couldn’t leave TV.”

“I feel they have brave hearts.”

“I also like it because actress in the film is so handsome and manly.”

“Jack met Rose and he fall in love with first eyes.”

Topic:  Compare Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)

“The girls of HCMC often has brown color and in Hanoi has more white color.  Therefore the girls of Hanoi is alway more beautiful than in HCMC.”

“They [in HCMC] use all of their money in one day, they don’t think about tomorrow.”

“HCMC is noisier, surroundings in this city easy to become bad.”

“Some people say it’s have many trashes but I don’t see any trashes.”

“Character of people living in Hanoi is more intimate than people living in HCMC.”

“Hanoi is a wonderful place, peace, and noisy.”

Topic:   What will the world be like in 50 years?

“In my opinion, the world will be in 50 years very modern.”

Topic:  Write or answer a formal letter asking about courses at a school.

“I am going to joint on the next summer.”

“I am looking for your email early time.”

“This is a gored.”

“This time we have law prices 10% for every students.”

“Good lucky for you!”

“Let you that, every informations of course you can get It In websit.”

“My nealiest chef course will start at February.”

“I am very graceful of your attention with our course.”

Read Full Post »

I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been somewhat…er…distracted.  I was going to say busy, but it would take a stretch of the imagination to use so strong an adjective.  This summer has mostly been spent babysitting 7-12 year olds (i.e. teaching), performing as an English monkey for an NGO, and running around with my best friend, Lucey, who has come to visit me for a month.

First the babysitting.  I’ve already written about my adventures in child teaching, and they haven’t changed much despite my gains in experience.  I took over 4 classes from a teacher who went back the US.  Two of these classes are full of cute commercial-friendly children who sing when asked, chant vocabulary on demand, play games with joy and enthusiasm, and have cheeks just ripe for squeezing.  They smile from ear to ear when I draw smiley faces on their perfectly executed worksheets.  The other two classes are full of kids who only derive pleasure from their success in finding and punching Teacha’s buttons (in the classroom, my name is not Sarah, it’s Teacha).  It’s really not my imagination – they relish the moments where I am most annoyed.  I’m not paranoid, I’m perceptive.  The day has not been a success unless I have ground enamel off my teeth and have developed a twitch by the end of class. I’ve even resorted to yelling.  I yelled at a 9 year old.  I don’t yell.  It was bad.  But it fucking worked, although I can’t bring MLTmyself to adopt it as a regular control mechanism.  Before I left on my Thailand paradise vacation I thought I was really getting the hang of this kid stuff.  I started enjoying the classes, and didn’t feel like the kids were the enemy to be contained and whose spirits needed destroying.  Starting again this summer felt like starting from square one with these 2 classes.  It’s not that all the kids misbehave, but there’s just a critical mass of deviants in each one.  I call the worst ones my little terrorists (MLTs).  But from a silver lining perspective, MLTs do make for excitement and funny story-telling.  A few of them discovered curse words (possibly from me mumbling them under my breath?), and started misusing them on a regular basis.  I’ve been told to ignore this, and on some level I guess it’s good that they’re at least speaking English.  When asking them to invent team names, they’ll suggest Team Shit or Team Bitch.  They tattle tell by saying, “Teacha!  He’s fucking me!”  Um…[suppressed giggle]…no no, he’s actually not.  But really, you MUST let me know if that happens in the classroom.  That’s only for recess time.  I was giving them a list of library rules: No running, no shouting, no fighting.  One interrupted me and said, “No fucking!”  I simply said, “Right. And no fucking in the library.”  They thought this was as funny as I did.  Never ever begrudge a children’s teacher her summer vacation time.  It keeps the levels of child abuse low.  Their job flippin’ sucks.  It’s babysitter, knowledge dispenser, child psychologist, secretary, clown, and policeman all wrapped in one.  Take child psychologist.  I’m frequently told to ignore the bad ones in favor for the well-behaved ones because any attention can serve as positive reinforcement.  And I think this is true.  As I mentioned, part of the pleasure of misbehaving is that they get to see Teacha lose her shit.  But, how do you ignore shouting, running out of the room, a paper airplane that has just hit you in the face, one child stabbing another with his pencil, and other distractions?  I will never know.  On a different level, I have one student who is so shy and self-conscious that she refuses to come to class when she’s late for fear that the other kids will taunt her for it.  She’s in one of the good classes, where the kids will most assuredly not taunt her for such a thing.  I think any attention given to her feels like an attack.  She hates the games because if she fails, she feels complete and consuming shame for having let down her teammates.  And she inevitably fails because her fear of failure paralyzes her.  I try to rig the games to her advantage, but I can’t meddle enough without alarming the other kids’ injustice sensors, for no one feels the anguish of injustice like a child.  I am not qualified enough to know what to do about that poor little soul.  It’s not all bad, though.  It can still be fun, and there are the two good classes to offset the MLTs.  But I won’t be sorry to be done with it in a week.

I volunteer for a Vietnamese research NGO when I’m not chasing kids.  I call myself their English monkey because most of my time there has been spent editing grant proposals and reports.  I’m the only native English speaker that works there, so these are all written by Vietnamese people.  They speak and write English remarkably well, but academic or professional writing is a bitch when it’s in your own language, so you can imagine what it must be like for a Vietnamese person.  Academic writing in particular demands a certain degree of bullshit.  In other words, how can I take this relatively simple concept and make it sound scholarly?  Any problems related to this work involve me trying to decipher what it is the writer was trying to say and is it bullshit that I can just omit completely or do I have to tweak it into acceptable bullshit?  Also, thanks to the trusty thesaurus, they will often use words that are technically correct, but don’t really fit.  For example, “In an effort to learn more about influenza, we effected a study in Ba Dinh.”  Or something.   Or it can be generally confusing: “The project needs to discuss with faculties clearly identify outputs of their teaching (type of students) and a must knowledge and skills for each type of students.” Huh?  But such is the nature of the work I chose to invest my education in.  Oooh (to be said with a furrowed brow like you just saw someone fall on their face. For a demonstration, go to my favorite youtube video classic Charlie Bit Me – a video Lucey and I can’t get over and won’t stop stupidly imitating).

I’m faced with decision time as I need to figure out what I’m going to do with myself when I get back from my great return home.  I can go back to teaching (mostly adults) and continue with this posh and enviable lifestyle I lead where I get overpaid, have relatively short work hours, a job that I pretty much enjoy, go out on weeknights, sleep in whenever, and can take 6 week paradise vacations. Or I can take a 2/3 pay cut, work twice as much, spend inordinate amounts of time in front of a computer screen, and hang out the entire day with people speaking an incomprehensible language.  Hmm…this is a hard decision?  Ok, so I’m exaggerating teaching’s awesomeness and NGO work’s lack thereof.  Jebus, surely.  So, downsides to teaching: hours can be weird and crazy, 6 day weeks, its repetitiveness, the whole constant performance aspect, and constantly being told by your students you’re fat.  Upsides to NGO work: resume fodder for potential future work, the challenge of it, the general feeling that you’re doing something meaningful like working to improve people’s lives, and lots of downtime Facebook opportunities.   I think I’m going to give the NGO thing a shot for a while and see if I can handle it and all its unglamorous glory.  At least I can use it to feel superior to my teaching friends.  I’m helping Vietnamese people kind of.  You’re…ok, you’re kind of helping them too, but you’re in it for the money.  I’m poor so there.

So yes, I mentioned I’m going home.  I’m expecting no less than a reverse culture shock.  I hope to be shocked by the lack of noise and confusion in the streets, the obscene cost of everything, all the whities, its overwhelming convenience, and being able to eavesdrop other people’s mundane conversations.  I’ll offend people by throwing my garbage in their yards, insisting on bottled water, trying to bargain some Gap saleslady down on some jeans, driving on the sidewalk, ignoring traffic lights, and screaming at my waitresses for services and then not tipping them.  Friends at home, you’ve been warned.  I’m looking forward to seeing my people of course and the new baby that’s still chilling in my sister’s belly at the moment, waiting patiently for my arrival to make its debut in the world (I hope I hope).  I’m also looking forward to inhaling all the food I’ve been missing (mmm…proper pizza, Mexican food, broccoli).  If I don’t gain at least 15 pounds, I will not have succeeded.

Having Lucey here has been a fabulous clashing of worlds.  She adjusted to Hanoi relatively quickly, riding a bike weeks before I dared to when I got here, fighting off the advances of xe om drivers, standing her ground when someone’s trying to rip her off, and chugging down beer at dirty street stalls.  I’m proud.  I’ll be a sad panda when she leaves as she’s filled my girlfriend void and leaving Lucey is always a traumatic experience in general.  We’re so freakin’ cute I have to post not one but two pictures:


Read Full Post »

November 29, 2008


At this point I’m mostly teaching lower level students. I just started a beginner’s class, so they’re learning basic stuff like, “Hello, I’m ___. What’s your name?” Actually, they already seemed to know that, but we still spent about an hour on it, trying to get the pronunciation right and adding in some phrases like “Nice to meet you.  How are you?  I’m fine, ok, not so good.”  Needless to say, instructing them to do anything is tough, but miming and demonstrating get the point across eventually.  (How do you check instructions when all they know is ‘What’s your name’?)  In order to make something like the alphabet and greetings more interesting, we’ve been trained to play games with our students, and if possible, get them moving (which helps with the boredom of repeating the same phrase over and over.)  I’ve asked them to race each other, jump, mingle as though at a party, play hangman, telephone, and tic tac toe, and act out a story.  They always comply, but sometimes reluctantly – what does this crazy American want us to do?  Why do we have to leave our seats?  She wants us to mime?  I played “I spy” with one class- I said, “I spy something white.” One student replied, “You!”  Um…correct.  So, sometimes the kids classes and the adult classes blur.  Most of them seem to enjoy the infantilizing, with only a few exceptions.   You have to make it clear that although it’s a game, they really are practicing English.  If any of you know any cool kids games I’ve forgotten, please tell me. You can convert almost anything into an English teaching activity (or experiment).


Despite my countless efforts to entertain them, or perhaps because of them, I’ve gotten some tips from my students.  One was “you should teach vocabulary better.”  Well, I’ll give it a shot.  She may have meant that I should teach more vocabulary, but it’s possible that she’s asking me to improve my teaching skills in general.  It was too difficult to get her to elaborate.  Another student put her tips on paper, some of which I didn’t understand and others that may be beyond the level of her class (elementary).  She wanted us to have class discussions.  This is possible and fun with higher levels – you throw out a topic and get them to chat about it.  When they can’t think of a word, you help them out and you correct their grammar and pronunciation.  Common topics include relationships, customs, personal information (not too personal obviously), and taboos.   One teacher had an AIDS lesson – in it she discovered that a student believed that an effective way of avoiding HIV infection is to wait at least 10 minutes after sex before taking a shower.  Immediate shower = AIDS.  What about no shower?  I don’t know.


The only time sex has come up in one of my classes was while doing a reading about Romeo and Juliet.  The textbook asked students to think of the meaning of certain highlighted phrases.  One phrase was “spent the night together.”  I didn’t notice until we were going over the answers as a class, and I got all awkward and blushed when we got to that one.  I hesitantly asked what it meant, and one student replied “to have sec.”  Sure does, moving along…I failed to correct her pronunciation.  I was the prudie this time (more on prudery later).  The kiddos are still little terrors, but terrors I can kind of handle.  Just let the shrieking slide as long as they sort of participate most of the time.  They don’t seem to have the usual childlike desire to gain my approval (some do, and I love them.)


I had dinner with a student (a girl, you pervs) – not exactly a no no, but also not something you want to make a habit of.  I already spend a lot of time thinking about and helping out my students, so I want my free time to be mine.  There’s the worry that it’ll become an impromptu tutoring session.  There are always exceptions, though.  At some point she asked how much I pay for rent, and I told her about $380/month.  She thought this a fortune because she shares a 5 floor house and pays about $100/month.  I could pay less if I shared, but I’m not good at sharing – never absorbed those Kindergarten lessons.  Plus, the price is inflated due to the aforementioned foreigner tax and my inability to haggle.  She told me that she works in advertising and explained that she works a lot.  Later on she asked how much money I make in a month.  I haven’t gotten a month’s pay check yet, but I think after taxes, it works out to be around $1000-1200/month.  Not much by American standards.  I then proceeded to explain how although people here think of us teachers as wealthy, we’re really not…we’re definitely comfortable living in Vietnam, but not really rich.  She then told me she makes only $400/month.  Wow.  I’m an asshole.  A rich asshole!  Well, if you’re going to be an asshole, may as well be a rich one, right?


December 2, 2008


In a few days it’ll be my Vietnamese 3 month anniversary.  In some ways, it feels like it’s been much longer and in other ways it seems like I’m still a newbie tourist.  I feel pretty well adjusted, but also still quite naive.  I just had a hard time ordering coffee for God’s sake, something I thought I’d mastered. But does this make sense to you:  I ordered a ca phe sua, which gets me a coffee with sweetened milk.  Good stuff usually.  The waiter wanted more information, so I added “da” which means with ice.  He then pointed to the menu.  It had ca phe listed 8 times, each with a number next to it and with varying prices.  But that was it.  “Ca phe 1, ca phe 2, ca phe 3…”  He wanted me to choose a number.  Not knowing what the numbers could mean, I refused to choose for a while and kept repeating “ca phe sua da”.  It didn’t work.  We ended up agreeing on bon (or 4).  I got what I expected.


So, I was hoping that in my stay in Vietnam, I would passively absorb the language.  I would effortlessly pick it up through my fumblings with students, waiters, and pho ladies. Nope.  To my dismay, it doesn’t work that way.  I only know a few phrases and numbers.  I might actually have to make an effort.  Dern.  Given that I’m not one for self-discipline (my conversational Vietnamese cds remained untouched until a week ago), I accepted an invitation to join Jouke and another teacher for some Vietnamese lessons.  We’ve only had two lessons so far, and it’s been fun.  Fun and difficult.  I learned that I’ve been ordering a chamberpot for breakfast every morning, and I’ve told my students that I ride a goat to class. Hence the laughter.  They always find my roll calling hysterical on the first class day.  I assumed it was because I was butchering their names with my poor pronunciation.  Well, I am, but my mistakes translate into actual words.  Who knows what I’ve been calling these people.  For example, Ngoc can either mean pearl or stupid depending on how you say it.  They don’t seem to get offended, although I’ve surely called a number of my students stupid.


Here are some other meanings of some Vietnamese names: flower, the sun, fall, perfumed grass, and a good child.  I know my name is purported to mean princess, but no one calls me princess, although they absolutely should.  I’m not sure if this is how it works in Vietnam, or do they simply call each other sun, flower, good child, etc?  Hi perfumed grass, how’s it going?  Not really too strange, but different.  Another random difference – I asked a student how old he is.  He looked a little conflicted about how to answer the relatively simple question, and not because he didn’t understand the question.  The class then explained that in Vietnam, they start counting age from conception – that is, birthday plus 9 months or so. Ok, how old are you in Western years?  Vietnamese years?  Pro-lifers back home would find this logical and appropriate I’m sure.  It just seems complicated to me.  What if you were premature?  It also forces you to think about your parents having sex, which most people understand as a factual historical event, but hate to acknowledge.  At least in my culture.

 And speaking of prudery, I’ve already talked about my own, but I’ll move along to others.  I’m moving into a house/apartment complex with Jouke in a few weeks.  The family owners live in the house and there are 3 floors rented out to foreigners. We each have our own bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen, so it’s like any other apartment complex, with the exception of having to walk through the family’s living space to get to your room.  So, the family’s pretty familiar with the tenants’ comings and goings.  When I was discussing with the landlady through a translator my impending stay, she said that it’s ok if we have visitors, but please, no overnight guests. Jouke and I assumed it was our landlady’s er…conservative values.  Jouke protested saying that we pay a lot of money and should be able to have whomever we want in our rooms.  The plus side to renting to foreigners is that you can charge us prices no sane local person would pay.  The cost of this, though, is that you have to deal with our late morning and night hours, our unkempt appearance (especially in the morning), our slutty tendencies, and our general lack of morals.  We’re Godless slutmobiles.  And we have the notion that we should generally be left to live as we please so long as we’re not getting into too much trouble.  We didn’t give that whole speech to the landlady, but she told us that the police give her trouble if there are overnight guests unaccounted for.  Neighbors talk and presumably record our every move.  Mitchell’s landlady forbade him from bed buddies as well, saying it’s illegal.  We ended up compromising by agreeing that if we have a slumber party, we need to give the landlady the guests’ information beforehand.  Not too practical (see, in our culture, the courting phase can be quite short), but whatever.  I’m unclear about what the real deal is.  Mitchell said that it’s illegal to even rent a hotel room together if you’re an unmarried couple.  Hence the plethora of hotels that rent by the hour and don’t ask questions.  This may be the one and only case where the gays have an advantage over us straights – they can pretend to be just friends.

Maybe I’ll pose the question to my higher level students.  Should extra-marital sex be illegal?  Write a summary and hand it in next week. Ew- then I’d have to talk about sex, which they will surely pronounce sec, leading us to chant the word over and over until they get it right.  My colleagues may wonder why they can hear “Sex!” being shouted repeatedly in my room.  I can do a gap fill activity using the classic Salt n’ Pepa song “Let’s talk about sex.”  I’ll have the most popular class.


Read Full Post »

Character-building indeed.  When I wrote about my fears of mayhem breaking out during my children’s classes, I thought I was exaggerating for comic effect.  Little did I know that my teaching nightmare would become a reality.  No, I didn’t end up actually crying in the corner and no furniture was broken, but it only seems to be a matter of time before this happens.  As for the running and screaming, there was plenty of that going on.  There was also crayon-throwing, teacher-mocking, non-stop chattering, wrestling, running out of the classroom, getting out of chairs and dancing, glaring, bullying of other children, and flat out defiance.  At one point, a kid whined “I wanna go home!”  Hey kid, you’re making me want to go back to my home country, so at least we can relate on that level.   



Much of this has to do with the fact that I’m inexperienced.  I’ve observed one children’s class ever, and therefore I’m supposed to figure this all out by trial and error.  I also have no idea what I’m supposed to do to discipline these kids, and I’m not really the disciplinarian type in general.  I was reluctant to send them to our equivalent of a principal on my first day and wasn’t sure if the behavior even warranted that.  I want to keep it as a nuclear option that I use only for truly abhorrent behavior (that and speaking to their parents, who almost assuredly won’t know English, but I’m sure there’s a way around that).  I suppose I could send them out of the class for a time out of sorts (or is that a reward?).  What do you do when they simply won’t listen to you?  I’m serious.  Any ideas?  All the other teachers I spoke to beforehand said to just play lots of games.  We did play lots of games, and of course that just gets them riled up.  My mom, who actually teaches little kids, said, “No. No games until you’ve established some kind of control.  You can reward them with games once they’ve chilled out.”  Or something like that.  She was a little unsure about how to discipline effectively when your students don’t speak your language.  Everyone says you must be strict in the beginning – let them know who’s boss – because if you don’t do it initially, it’s almost impossible to do it later.  Great.  And some teachers have given me the impression that this is all normal, and it doesn’t really get much better.  Fabulous.  My Sundays for the next 6 months are starting to look bleak.


Despite all of the above whining, the 3 kids’ classes I had weren’t a complete disaster – just teetering dangerously on the brink of complete disaster.  There were good moments…I was so proud of them when they were able to understand the difference between uncountable and countable nouns.  When given worksheets, almost all of them do the work and do it well.  And there were definitely times when they were on the same page as me, chanting sentences that I asked them to chant rather than attempting to beat the shit out of their neighbor.  And of course, they’re cute as hell.  But I still have a long way to go before I can successfully take my peers’ advice to “have fun.”  Fun?  What kind of sadistic idea of fun do you have in mind?  Jouke thinks that some people just love the kids’ classes while others can’t stand them, and there appears to be no middle ground.  I’m currently in the latter category, but I haven’t resigned myself to it yet.  I’ll hopefully figure out how to achieve order or at least some kind of controlled chaos, and then it won’t be so bad.  I figure if I give it a few more weeks, and it doesn’t improve (or God help me, get worse), I’ll have to just beg my boss to find someone else who can handle it.  Do you really want these parents paying for a really bad babysitter?  Alas, we’ll see how it goes.  I also had teenagers, who intimidated me at first (what could be worse than teens?!).  The teens were great, though, and my only issue with that class is that I need to grade my language more and figure out activities that aren’t over their heads.  They were sweet and adorable.  Also, so far I have one adult class which I’ve taught twice, and I’m completely smitten with them as well.  They’re also sweet and patient, and I find teaching them really is fun.  They’ll pretty much do whatever you ask them to, and go beyond what’s asked of them when they can.  I heart them.

Hanoi Street - nothing to do with the post, but I like it.

Hanoi Street - nothing to do with the post, but I like it.





Read Full Post »

After a somewhat confusing interview process, I’m due to start work this Friday.  The interviews weren’t normal as they’ve already heard all about our foibles and minor victories in the CELTA course.  So, no questions about our strengths and weaknesses or where we want to be in five years.  I cringe to think of what they’ve already heard about me actually.  However, it mustn’t be too bad given the contract they put in front of me to sign (or they’re seriously desperate – I think it’s a bit of both).  There seemed to be some in-school squabbling over the CELTA grads.  Language Link has a few campuses and each one has its own recruiter.  I started with a I-don’t-care-just-gimme-a-job attitude.  I’m sure there’re all sorts of juicy information bits about the schools that I’m not privy to that would lean me one way or the other.  It’s 6 months, though, and I imagine that I can handle whatever for that period of time.  Not that I’m not scared shitless of having to teach my own classes – being put in charge of these gentle souls’ English-speaking futures.  I’m slightly horrified, especially at the prospect of teaching little kids.  I have visions of dozens of Vietnamese children running around the classroom screaming and breaking furniture while I sit crying in the corner, counting the minutes until the class ends. I have my doubts that the little ones will be as patient and engaged as our adult classes were.  But hell, if all else fails, I’ll spend the lesson singing Itsy Bitsy Spider to them or playing tag (when you tag someone, just say an English word, any word, preferably ‘bubbles’). I did get a chance to watch the teacher whose job I’m taking over teach some teenagers and kids.  The kids class seemed a bit chaotic as their little squeals pierced my eardrums throughout most of the lesson, but it was a sort of controlled chaos.  I was amazed when they did an activity correctly because they didn’t appear to be listening to the instructions.  If there’s one thing I learned from watching that teacher, it’s that patience is extremely valuable.  As are games.  Lots and lots of games that get somehow involve them speaking English. Yes, it shall be an interesting 6 months to say the least – lots of “character building” – my only consolation prize for a painful experience.  Wow, look at all the character I’ve built!  I have mountains and mountains of character!  Overall though, the teachers and staff I’ve met so far are really sweet, and it seems like a good working environment.

I haven’t given up on the public health job hunt, although it’s on hold at the moment.  How do I say, “I’m totally ready to work for you in 6 months.  Just keep me in mind”?  My fear of public humiliation in the classroom has suddenly made statistics seem like a really easy, carefree way to spend my day.  I’m still amused at the fact that I have Masters degree in biostatistics.  Let’s just say that the glorious day I can call myself a master of statistics (or of anything else for that matter) is far from view.  Shhh…don’t tell any prospective employers.

Read Full Post »