Thursday, October 19, 2006

new classes and tea

This week, as I mentioned in the last post, the rest of my classes started.  I have 4 new classes of freshman, half English majors and half broadcasting majors (though one of those classes is on the bigger side), and they seem to have gotten started on good notes.  The English classes in particular went quite well, as did my sophomore English classes this week.  The students are finally willing to talk a bit, which has been my goal since the beginning of the semester.  It's a little more difficult with the broadcasting majors, though, since their English isn't quite as good and they are therefore more reluctant to speak in class.  They are much more comfortable reading aloud or following a script than composing their own ideas.  Unfortunately, they get plenty of practice at that in their other classes, and somehow I need to motivate them to communicate their own thoughts and feelings in English, which is no easy task, but things seem to be improving at least in my sophomore classes.

This evening I finally got around to buying a proper Chinese tea set, or at least the beginnings of one.

my tea set

It's pretty simple but functional, and the first tea I brewed in it turned out pretty good.

my first tea

The experience of going to the tea shop, though, was by far the best part.  When you walk in, you're given a tea to try, and then usually invited to sit down and drink some more, which I did since I already knew I was going to buy something there and didn't feel bad taking advantage of their hospitality.  The tea we drank was of course very good, and it was a great opportunity to practice my Chinese, which is coming along pretty slowly, but improving nonetheless.  The conversation consisted of me often saying "Ting bu dong" (literally, "I hear, don't understand," which is the easiest and most common way to say you don't understand what's being said), followed by repeated explanations and hand gestures.  Usually I was able to figure out what they were saying without too much effort, and like I said, it's great practice.  They invited me to go back and drink tea anytime, as well as practice speaking, and of course teach them some English.  Every tea shop I've been in has done the same thing, though, so I'm not sure how sincere of an offer it is.  We'll have to see when I go back.

It's starting to get late though, so I'm going to practice writing some Chinese caracters in my hand notebook (see below) and get some rest.  'Night.

Chinese writing notebook

1 comment:

Carrie said...

During the first week of class I teach my students the basic conversation stuff: greetings, introductions, where are you from?, etc. The cumulative project is the creation of a script that the kids write in pairs and read to the class. The project lets them apply the basic convo stuff they've learned and gets them speaking, albeit with training wheels, which is a start.

I don't know if you'll start a new term with a new group of students but if so, it's something to consider.

Good luck!