May 10, 2010

Wow, it’s hot here!

Here we are at the beginning of May. I’m not sure, although I could check, but too lazy right now, how hot it got today, but it was a scorcher.

On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, I have a wonderful little class, 5 students, who are all under the age of 7! These kids are really amazing… They seem to understand most of what I say to them. They all love my iPhone. They’re really getting into “Tap Tap Revenge” for some reason. I’ve shown them how to play a 2-player game, where they ‘tap tap’ against each other… They’re better than me now!!

Anyway, every morning is kind of the same routine. They have about 10 minutes to play on my iPhone, while I eat breakfast. Yes, I’ve been getting into the habit, at least on these three days, of having breakfast in the morning. Bacon, egg, shredded cabbage (?), and cheese, rolled and grilled in a soft tortilla-type bread. MMMM…. and I put on lots of what I call ketchup – here they call it chili sauce!

After that, we start into the morning class. What day is today? They are all able to tell me the day, month, number and year, without so much as a stutter. A couple of repeats, then, how’s the weather. They always seem to get a kick out of how I will draw on the calendar. If it’s sunny, they always want me to make a ‘girl’ sun! I don’t know why… kids!

Lately, I’ve also introduced temperature to them. Thanks, Apple iPhone! I can get the updated temperature for just about all the major cities of the world. In fact, I have London, Listowel, Vancouver, Ottawa, Windsor, Tainan, and Singapore. Why Singapore? Why Listowel? These kids have no idea where these places are. But, they know that I used to live in Vancouver. They also know Tainan, of course. They know my mom and dad live in (or near) London. I’ve told them that Ottawa is to Canada as Taipei is to Taiwan. Okay, similes are not part of their brain right now, but their teacher has explained it to them in Chinese. Now they know!

Today, was kind of interesting. We made a HUGE sun on the calendar. It was sooo big, it was almost drawn off the page! WOW! So it was hot!! How hot was it? At 10:30 am (ish), it was a piping 33C in Tainan. No winds, and only a few misty clouds in the sky. Yes folks, they could have used the road as a grill today!

So then the flipping on the iPhone begins. Vancouver – 14C. I was kind of surprised. The kids were oohing and ahhing at that. Then they get to Listowel, and it showed 2C! Again, I was quite shocked at the temperature, and they were doubly so! They were all chatting at once, trying to show their teacher, who was laughing that they were so into the temperature!

A couple of times I had to say the name of the city, and then the chatter would begin again.

When I took the TESOL course back in Vancouver those many years ago, one of the questions that was asked of us was, what age of students would we most like to teach. Of course, the majority of us were aiming our sights on older people, maybe teenagers. No one that I recall mentioned ‘babies’. I’ve come to realize, and it didn’t take too long, that teaching very young people is the right way to go!

At this age, what do these kids have to worry about? What will happen to SpongeBob next? Who’s using their crayons? When will Teacher Bill get there? They don’t have to worry about a job! They don’t have to worry about paying bills! They don’t have to think about tests, studying, or anything that anyone over the age of say, 12 has to begin to think about. They are in it for the fun. And fun we have!

I always say that I am not a ‘games’ teacher. I wholeheartedly do not believe that pre-teens or teenagers learn anything when you play games. They learn how to improve their Chinese cheering on, they learn how to pass information back and forth in Chinese, and they learn how silly they can be. Actually learn anything about the lesson? I doubt it. However, these little tykes, wow… the more I throw at them, the more they seem to remember.

A couple of them, I can see, are already using their ‘translation’ skills. Pretty cool. Teacher Annie may not know a particular word, but for some reason, Justin or Nadia do! I may not know how to say something in Chinese, and they sift through their jumble of words in their cranial filing cabinet, and are able to tell me! Man…

It only took them about 2 days to learn the word ‘Celsius’. When they see the temperature on my iPhone, they will actually say it out – 33 degrees Celsius. Incredible. Most of my pre-teen students wouldn’t even know what I was talking about if I said the word ‘Celsius’. If I say, “33 C”, then they know.

So, I’ve changed my mind. I really do enjoy teaching these little kids. I enjoy the fact that they are open to anything. A few repetitions, and they’ve got it down pat! Introduce something new, and they soak it in. I just hope and wish that they will retain that joy of learning for a long time. I’d love to be able to advance with them during their elementary school lives. I’d love to see them be able to speak English and Chinese without a problem.

I have had the pleasure, over 9 years, of seeing this progression with a small handful of students. I have seen their zeal for learning increase each year. I have seen them become comfortable in either language, not afraid to speak with anyone.

Ah, the joys of teaching. Yes, there are some pretty hectic and sometimes downright hellish days, but then there’s always Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday to look forward to!

You want to see a typical type class with my kids? Here ya go! This was a practice session for the Christmas show last year.


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