February 24, 2010

Another bright and sunny day on the horizon here in Taiwan.

Yesterday went as well as could be expected.  I started back at the Junior High School I teach at, but only for one class.  The first period back after the holidays is called HOMEROOM TEACHER TIME.  I asked the second period students what that meant.  They said they had to clean the classroom.  I looked around my classroom and asked who cleaned up here.  The answer, as I expected, was no one!

This class, this semester, has 22 students.  I went around and asked about 1/2 of them, what did you do for the past 35 days.  They had 35 days holidays.  Not 3, not 5, 35 days!!  I kind of gave up asking because the answer ranged from, “Nothing,” to “Play computer games.”  Chinese New Year, to my understanding, and as I mentioned before, is a time for family.  It is the biggest holiday, and the longest running holiday of the whole year.  However, as kids, all they can remember doing for 35 days is playing computer games, riding their bicycles, and getting red envelopes.  Oh, to be a kid again.  By the way, these are grade 8 ‘gifted’ students.  This means that their English grammar scores on their last test was the highest in their class, their conversation level is considered high, or, mommy or daddy want them to be taught by a foreign teacher.

Now, I will admit that most of these students are very good.  They need to have good English skills, otherwise they’ll die in my class.  I don’t speak, read, or write Chinese, so these students must listen, understand, and speak English.  The class is 50 minutes.  I have the reputation of being a tough teacher (I know that), but damn, these kid’s parents pay a lot of money for the privilege of their child going to that school (private high school), and I get paid very well by the school.  My three basic rules:  A) NO PENS, pencil only;  B) NO CHINESE – talk all you want in English, I don’t care, Chinese, I get upset; and C) WHOEVER IS SPEAKING HAS THE FLOOR, everyone else, shut up (including me!).

The pencil rule is tough on these kids.  They’re 12 and 13 years old, and feel that by using a pencil is like, they’re still in elementary school.  My reasoning is, if you use a pencil and eraser, when making mistakes, you’ll learn from erasing and rewriting.  Using white out, you learn nothing.  The Chinese rule is tough, but again, these are supposed to be the cream of the cream of the crop!  These kids are supposed to be the best English students in their grade level, thus, they are in a class with a foreign teacher who does not speak their mother tongue.  As for the talking, well, it’s a rule, but it’s not always enforced so much, unless I genuinely cannot hear someone above the noise of others.

Oh yes, and I give them homework, and expect it to be done.  Their scores on MY TESTS each term, dictates where in the classroom they sit.  The low scores sit in front, the good scores, at the back.  The 2 or 3 highest scores get to choose their seats.

I heard late last night (for me, anyway), that Canada had won a gold medal for the ice dancing competition at the Olympics in Vancouver.  I realize that most of you reading this are aware of where the Olympics are being held, but that is more for my Taiwan friends who will take a stab at reading my blog.

My brother had a posted a note about hoping that Canada “…wins gold in curling, no hockey, no ice dancing…” or something like that, and I replied asking what the medal or gold count was.  I got a response from my cousin Beth (thank you, Beth).

Being in Taiwan, there is, to my knowledge, no coverage of the Winter Olympics.  I have only seen one, 15-second commercial about the Olympics.  Had I not looked up at the T.V. at that precise moment, I would have missed it.  My father told me that during the opening ceremonies, as the parade of athletes walked around the track, there was only one (1) athlete from Taiwan.  I’ve asked about a 100 people (students, teachers, friends) who this ONE athlete is.  No one knows.  They didn’t even know when the Olympics were, and only a couple people knew WHERE!

Okay, so the Winter Olympics is not as prestigious as the summer Olympics.  Okay, so Taiwan has no winter sports per se.  Actually, I don’t even know WHAT winter sport Taiwan is competing in either?  That’s almost as ridiculous as the Jamaican Bob Sled team from a few Olympics back.  So, I can kind of understand why there is no news coverage about the Winter Olympics in Taiwan.  I guess if that sole athlete does win, well everyone will know about it.  GO TAIWAN!

Just to let you know, the only information I’m getting here about the Winter Olympics, is the messages my relatives and friends in Canada are posting to Facebook, and the controversial news that Yahoo! posts on it’s site.

Well, that’s it for today.  Feel free to comment.  I’m sure I’ll have SOMETHING to say tomorrow.  I’ve been told that I do talk (or in this case, write) a lot.  Guilty as charged.



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2 responses to “February 24, 2010

  1. Pat

    I enjoy reading your blog..how did you end up teaching so far away ? So happy to share some time with you .. Gram and Grampa would be tickled to see that the cousins keep in touch. Keep up the writing.!

  2. Robin

    Just to let you know….I spent about an hour the other day looking for the athlete’s name (and sport) from Taiwan and could not find it. It’s still a mystery!

    There were quite a few countries (during the opening ceremonies) who had just one athlete and I thought that was great! Most of them were in the sport of alpine skiing. They must all be ‘heroes’ in their respective countries.

    And, personally, I thought the story behind the Jamaican bobsledders was interesting! 🙂

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