So I’ve officially been in China for about ten days now. Sorry for the lack of updates. This past week has been so exhausting, but very fulfilling at the same time. I’ll try my best to cover the multitude of events that occurred last week.
On our first day at the Hongshan Migrant School we were given our teaching materials in the morning and then thrown into the classroom to teach by the afternoon. Justin (HC ’13) and I decided to teach one first grade class and two second grade classes, while Zeke (HC ’13) and Lawrence (HC ’14) took three third grade classes. After Justin and I introduced ourselves to our first class, we attempted to get the students to use English to introduce themselves. However we found that many of the students were shy when it came to speaking English. Thus we tried to divide and conquer. Justin, Adrian (our Chinese volunteer), and I each took a few rows of students and asked them to introduce themselves in English. We quickly found out that with a class of 54 students this approach doesn’t work very well. So by the second class we did more activities that required participation and attention from the whole class. And of course, we found that the students really liked playing games. And for an added bonus, matching games are very useful when it comes to teaching new vocabulary.
Then on Friday the other CPGC interns and I went to Fangcaoyuan Primary School for The Peace Journey Activity. From the moment we walked through the gates of Fangcaoyuan primary school, we could tell there was a clear contrast between public schools and the private migrant schools in China. Generally in China, the public schools offer a higher standard of education compared to the private schools. This is due to the way China’s identification system works: the location one is born at is how one is identified. For example, if someone is born in a village then it is noted on his/her ID card and thus that person is only allowed benefits from that location. Consequently, children of villagers who go to the city to find work cannot attend the city’s schools. Thus, private migrant schools were started to provide education for these children of migrant workers. Of course, considering the low salaries of migrant workers, the schools have limited resources. Moreover, since the Chinese government required students to start learning English, many schools have simply taken their physical education teachers, art teachers, etc. and given them some English instruction so they could teach English. It was clear that the students’ proficiency in English was of a higher level in the public primary school. After we introduced ourselves in English to the class, the students made name cards and had no trouble introducing themselves to us in English as well. Through the next hour we introduced the topic of peace – we asked the students what they thought “peace” meant, acted out a skit, and taught them one of our beloved childhood songs, “I Love You” from Barney. At the end, the students presented cards to us to thank us for coming and to welcome us to Nanjing.
Nonetheless, Friday got even better. In the evening, the CPGC interns as well other Amity interns (from UPenn) went to Hohai University to facilitate their English Corner. Apparently every Friday evening students interested in practicing their English gather to speak with one another. Some were English majors but there were also many people from other majors there who simply wanted to improve their English. There people were definitely dedicated to learning the language. Many of them spoke pretty fluently. They listened to tapes, repeatedly watched English movies and TV shows (and would pause them to repeat after the characters), and were interested in American culture. We even found one guy who spoke with a British accent. When we asked him how he learned how to speak English we found out that he repeatedly listened to a tape. He didn’t even know that the speaker was British until he met Americans who told him he spoke with a British accent. Now he speaks with a British accent simply because that was the tape he happened to pick up that day he decided he wanted to learn English, haha.
Anyways, that’s all for now, must get up bright and early to teach class tomorrow. I’ve attached some photos for your viewing pleasure though, so check them out below.