July 18, 2010

Sunday, Sunday, so good to me…

Actually, I know the song is “Monday, Monday”, because I sing it with my little kindergarteners every day of the week, just changing the day to whatever day it is.

Today, I got to see a couple of my favourite students again. Ting and her sister (and mom and dad, of course) went to Italy for a couple of weeks.

Cathy is rather quiet. It used to be, a long time ago, when she was in the bushiban, I couldn’t get this girl to shut up! Literally!! She talked and talked and talked. She would answer questions before the other children. It got to a point in the class, that the other students wouldn’t answer questions at all. They shut down and just waited until Cathy answered. I had to ask her several times to let other children speak.

In a way, it was nice to know that at least one student in the class paid attention, and could answer the questions, and respond to my queries, but at some point, the teacher has to put a lid on it. Around the time that I started teaching her privately (I had already been teaching Ting), her mother pulled her out of the bushiban. I think I know the reason, listening to Ting, but the reason is of no concern to me.

Now, about the only thing this girl ever says in an hour is ‘uh’ and ‘huh’. I have to pry and tug and shake her to get her to say ANYTHING! I’ve tried reading stories with her, and her reading is great. But she just won’t initiate conversation. Now, nothing to her is funny or sad or anything. She maintains the same stoic face all through the hour I’m with her.

She was showing me a book about Vatican City.

“Did you go here?” I asked.


“Did you see this?” I asked.


“Did you like the food?” I asked.

“Huh. Uh.”

“What did you like the most in Italy?” I asked.

No answer this time, just a shoulder shrug.

I told her that beginning next week, we would either have to talk more, or she was going to have to read a LOT more.


An hour of this, and I’m just about out of conversation. I look at the time, and finally, it’s Ting’s turn. Over this past year, Ting has been through a lot I suppose. She used to be one of my best students. Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoy spending the time with her. She’s still a good conversationalist, but not as much as in the past.

This year, or rather last, she entered junior high school. She really wanted to go to a particular school, but of course, since she is only 13 years old, mom had her idea of which school Ting was going to attend. As we all know (and have been there), sometimes parents can really be unreasonable when we are teenagers. Well, Taiwan kids are no different in that aspect.

Consider this a good thing or bad – up to you. Since she entered junior high, her mom no longer allows her to watch television from Monday through Saturday. Apparently, she is only allowed to watch 1 or 2 hours of T.V. on Sunday nights – after all her homework is done. Since Taiwan teachers are notorious for assigning homework, this means that even in grade 7, students have about 4 or 5 hours of homework every night! I’m not joking! I sometimes wonder if the students actually learn anything in school, or is everything learned at bushiban and through homework assignments.

She also has tutoring classes all day on Saturday. She has six tutors come in through the day. Each stays for 2 hours to teach her, and she has a 1/2 break between each. Figure this out, and you’ll see that she has about 12 hours of class on Saturdays! Poor kid. Even I feel sorry for her.

So, my class tends to be a little more lax. We do some work, but mostly just talk. My time with her is only one hour, so in a way, not a lot gets done as far as work. Then again, she has 2 different English homework assignments to do each night for her high school anyway.

This is the girl who, when she was in grade 4, her family went to Tokyo Disney for a week. I was having her do essays each week. One week after they returned, she asked what she should write about. I told her to write about Tokyo Disney. This little girl (at the time), wrote an essay over 2000 words! She wrote about everything from the moment they woke up the day of the trip, to the moment she went back to bed the day they got back! I mean, EVERYTHING. What they ate, did, saw, what she and her sister fought about – you name, it’s probably in that essay. I think I still have it saved somewhere on the computer.

Later on, I got to see Jeff again. He’d been in Vancouver with his relatives for the past month. I must admit, that of all the students who were on holidays, I probably missed him the most! He really is a good kid. His English is, in one word, incredible.

This is the boy who went to school in Vancouver for grades 2 through 6. Mom and dad brought him back to Taiwan for junior high school (7, 8, and 9), but because his Chinese wasn’t good enough for junior high, had to go back and repeat grade 6 in Taiwan. He’s now going into grade 8 this year.

As I lived in Vancouver (well, New Westminster), he and I have something in common. Conversation always ends up talking about something in Canada. I sort of live or ‘go on holidays’ each week chatting with him. For a 14-year-old boy, his attitude and demeanour are well beyond his years. Talking with him each week, is like chatting to a friend.

He mentioned to me that this year, he was in grade 8, class 1, at Chong-rong – my junior high school. Sure enough, when I got home and checked my schedule, he is in my class! Yes! I think this will be a great class to teach this year. I’m sure that he will ‘forewarn’ his fellow classmates about me! Hahha…

Other than that, the day went by rather well. Things are slowly getting back to normal. We’ll see what the new week has in store.


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