Monday, March 26, 2007

day in, day out

It's been a while since I've written (as usual), but really there isn't much going on here worth writing home about. Classes are going relatively well, though my sophomores are all a bit worried about their upcoming TEM-4 (Test for English Majors) which they have to pass on their first or second try to graduate. The same test is given throughout China, and is used I suppose to make sure that all English graduates have at least a minimum proficiency regardless of which university they studied at. It, like all knowledge-based standardized tests, causes many many schools and teachers to "teach to the test," ignoring the real needs of the students and greatly limiting creative lesson planning. There's no spoken part of the test, so they take my oral English class less seriously than I think they should, and they want me to tailor my listening class to the test. They only have another month or so before it to get ready, so I told them that our next few classes could be test-oriented. Their biggest weakness as far as I see it is their lack of confidence and excessive nervousness, but unfortunately I don't know how to change that. If they would only relax, they do a lot better.

Other than class, I don't really do much, usually just hang out with friends to practice my Chinese and watch movies or read when there's no one around. Last week I was without internet for 3 or 4 days and without electricity for two (not because the building was cut off the grid but rather because the Foreign Affairs Office couldn't get an appointment with the one woman who sells the prepaid electricity cards), but I managed to survive. I've been going for pretty regular bike rides, usual just to the nearest big grocery store (about half an hour away), and learning a fair amount about the traffic rules or lack thereof in China. The basic rule seems to be avoid stopping at all costs but collision, which fortunately coincides nicely with US college campus bicycle riding.

It's getting late so I'm going to get to bed - I'd like to try to ride into the city tomorrow.

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