English Club

Hi there,

I’ve been lacking in photos lately, I know. There are a few reasons for that.

1. There isn’t much to take pictures of that I haven’t already photographed, and my computer is already quite full of photos.

2. I really like to write sometimes too, and hope that you all will read the words and enjoy them just as much as the pictures, although I do know that sometimes photos do a better job of showing you just what’s going on.

3. This is just recent: Someone dropped my camera and it dented the lens and it won’t open well. I’m a bit nervous about trying it again and am actually avoiding the situation which I’ll have to eventually confront. I take perfect care of my belongings and to think that someone carelessly knocked it off of what it was sitting irks me. Probably because I hadn’t thought to secure the bag it was in. But I digress….

Here are some pictures I DO have from the first week of English Camp. After last semester’s constant asking whether I could do an English club of some sort, the school has finally asked me to do one on Friday afternoons, a time that I had previously had nothing. Of course I agreed, and it is turning out to be a great outlet for me to implement lessons and things I’ve wanted to try in the classroom but couldn’t because of curriculum restraints. Such is the teaching life, eh?

Without further ado, here is our English Club, session one!

Our English Classroom is being used. Still hate those chairs.

Oh dear. The stretched picture thing is going to happen again. I almost don’t want to add pictures.

This says ‘please put your school bags in the back of the classroom’

On Fridays I go to English Village from 8-12, then I take the 12:03 bus to school, which takes about 45 minutes, then our English Club goes from 1:45-3:45, then I take the same bus back home. So Fridays are essentially a regular day.

Checking in.

The kids arrive and put their bags at the back of the classroom. Then I check them in. This is the first class where I’ve really (almost) gotten the names down, because I teach 300 kids so that’s a lot of names to memorize. No excuses though I guess.

Cuties (L-R) Jenny, Jane, Wayne, Kerri

I have, by this point, made them little notebooks with pockets for worksheets and a pocket for their name cards.

Teacher Hannah reads an ‘If You Give A….’ book.

I usually read a story at some point during the class. This week it was ‘If You Give a Pig a Pancake’ because I was also going to read it the next day at the local Library where I do storytelling every month.

Teaching in a jacket. So classic Taiwan winter.

Oh the attractive faces you end up making in candid photos….

I love reading aloud. It is probably one of my favorite things to do and I cannot wait to have my own classroom where I can read chapter books, knowing that the students will understand what I am saying. One of the keys to helping EFL kids have fun with books they might not understand is using a lot of vocal intonation and movements. I half act out the book, just so they know what’s going on.

Preteaching the vocab

Preteaching vocab is also key. I like to pick about 8 to 10 salient words that I will teach and have them look for in the story as I’m telling it. I usually also tell the story twice, so they really understand what’s going on.

Check out my amazing drawing skills.

Although I’m no artist, I find that illustrating what I am explaining really helps.

Brian draws his blue pig

After the story this week, I had the kids draw their own pigs. They could basically do whatever they wanted and boy, did they come up with some cute pictures!

Kerri-2nd grade

Yuni-1st grade

Brian-1st grade

Diamond-4th grade (I laughed for about an hour when I saw his drawing- isn’t it great?!)

I couldn’t get enough of Diamond’s. He drew a whole turkey!

Barry -3rd grade

Kilie-4th grade

Explaining what the English words on the stickers mean

The kids get stickers when they do drawing or worksheet or just because I like to give stickers. Since they are some awesome American stickers my Mother sent from the US, I like to explain the words on them like, ‘Great!’ and ‘Wow!’ The kids take ages to choose a sticker, even though some of the sheets are the same just different background colors. I might have to start choosing for them….

Waiting for stickers

Reacting to cuteness

One of my favorite times of the class is giving the kids stickers is getting to look at the work they’ve done. It’s always so different!

 

Vanni- 1st grade (she reminds me of me when I was young somehow)

Me with my LET’s daughter, Abigale-1st grade

Another thing I love about English club is that it’s a class that I teach by myself, so I get to plan the lessons and really get to know these kids a lot better than only seeing them once or twice a week.

Which animals make which sounds in the US vs. Taiwan

Mid-‘squeak’

Close your mouth Brian, we are not a codfish. Brownie points if you can guess that reference!

One of the negative sides, however, is that I have a big gap in ages and grades and abilities. I have a whole bunch of 1st graders, and a few 3rd and 4th graders, so tailoring activities and content is a bit of a challenge.

Being a dork…I mean parrot

When the older students are finished in a flash, the younger students frequently cannot even conceptualize the task. What younger students find engaging, older students may find stupid or dull. I’m still working this out. Suggestions?

 

Disco break down

 

The kids were in on it too.

But mostly they all have fun.

 

I made the most ugly pancakes of your life.

And so do I!

 

Vanni and Yuni

Leo- 3rd grade. Why so angry?

‘Would you like jam?’ ‘Yes, Please/No, Thank you’

Another great thing is that I get to make them snacks every week. I never anticipate how much they’ll enjoy them. The first week I made pancakes to go with the story. An interesting experience, making pancakes on our Taiwan stove- it is obviously not made for cooking anything but stir fries on high heat. I ended up with more than a few slightly charred ones, but the kids scarfed them down all the same and clamored for seconds and thirds. I should have bought two boxes of pancake mix!

Obviously I got jam all over me.

Last week I did PB&J which they loved. Again, I only bought one loaf of bread so I could only give each kid 1/4 of a sandwich (I have 18 students) and had to turn them away when they asked for more. Still, it’s only a snack and a ‘taste’ of American culture.

Any thoughts or ideas what I could or should do? I have another lesson coming up this friday- so quickly!

Love, Hannah

ps: I’ll be home in 88 days! June 20th is my flight and I can hardly wait. It’s going to pass like a flash, I just know it. I’ve got a running list of things to accomplish before I leave, which I will perhaps share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Busy

I have developed such a fear of writing something disorganized and inarticulate that every time I sit down to write out a blog post, I find myself faltering and becoming quite unable to put any thoughts down at all. Most frustrating.

We are closing in on Spring here although thankfully the weather remains as chilly and wet as ever. While it has warmed a bit and I no longer need to wear eleven layers inside the house, I am keenly aware that one day I will wake up and BAM- HEAT. I do not look forward to this day. If you know anything about me, you will probably know that among all four seasons, I like Summer the least. I’ll get into this in another post in which I discuss the future and how I only have four months left! But for now I’m still sitting in bed wearing my jacket, as I would be if I were in the States, as I hear you all are being dumped upon with yet more ice and snow. Would you groan if I told you I were jealous?

The best thing about this spring semester is that I’m much more busy. Here’s what I’ve currently got going on:

1. Weekly English on Tuesdays-this continues from last semester. Basically I present three English sentences at the Tuesday assembly

2. English Club- I finally was asked by my school to do a friday afternoon English club. I had asked a few times to do something of the sort, but was always told there was no time. This is even better, because it’s paid because it’s outside of work hours. Next post will be on the first session, which was last week!

3. English Easy Go Preparations- EEG (not to be confused with the Brain one) I am coaching the Song aspect (that has a dance to go with it) and the Reader’s Theatre, the script for which I adapted from Jan Brett’s ‘The Mitten’ story, a family favorite. The song/dance bit is to ‘The Lazy Song’ and ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ which are both, I kid you not, my least favorite songs. Go figure, right? For RT, the kids do not seem to give a flying fish about cracking down to business, which worries me, because KX (our school) has apparently done quite well in past years.

4. Contest Judging- I judged two speech/recitation contests in December, and since then have been judging anything English related at my school. While I have fun doing this, it’s mostly to see the kids take something in earnest. I throughly dislike ranking students and find this immensely difficult.

5. Yilan Project- Well you know what? I would explain this to you all if I had any idea what we were exactly doing. None of us ETAs really do. We are supposed to create something which is (from what I can gather) basically a tourist thing promoting Yilan in the form of connecting it to the US. Not blatantly touristy, but basically I think you could sort of say that, as we are covering food, family, environment, etc. We are responsible for the content, and Fulbright will hire professional people to put together pamphlets and exhibition books. Should be interesting.

6. Tutoring- I tutor one of my 6th grade students for an hour every week. His Mom said that towards finals she’d want to make it every day if he could deal with it. I balked a little. Not sure what to make of this.

7. Reach the World-First semester I was blogging for Reach the World, an organization that connects world travelers with inner city classrooms, particularly in NYC. I wrote all my posts in the fall only to be informed in December that the entire semester they had been unable to match me with a school.  This semester I have supposedly been matched and they are using my content from last semester which is great because I’m a bit busy and haven’t been doing anything THAT exciting and new.

8. Weekly Reports- We have biweekly reports due to Fulbright in which we talk about classroom life and cultural exploration. These typically don’t take extraordinary amounts of time, but they merit mention.

9. Storytelling at the Library- This began with my volunteering to take over for a fellow ETA and morphed into my being asked to do it again. I just went for the second time yesterday, reading, ‘Mama, Do You Love Me?’ do a bunch of bouncy Taiwanese children. I taught them a modified version of Mother May I? and drew some feelings on the board. Then we drew pictures. I had a blast.

So that’s my life right now.

Guess what?

96 days left!

Love, Hannah

First Impressions

It has been a long two first days.There is so much to say, I hope you don’t mind word heavy posts.  I can’t even believe that I’m sitting here writing this post, because at 6pm I was laying prostrate on my bed fast asleep as can be. I have no idea what came over me, but lately I’ve been so tired. I leave the house mornings at 6:45 am and get back around 5pm, so those are long hours, so that could be part of it.

The bus. After waking up, showering, getting dressed, and stuffing breakfast into my mouth, I set off for the bus stop. The bus is a little shuttle bus, not the kind you’d think of as a city bus, but then again, Yilan City is kind of a small city. This particular morning I felt a bit ill for some reason. The route of the bus goes over the train tracks, to the transfer station/bus station, and every time it is a recreation of every roller coaster I’ve ever been on. My stomach flops as the driver careens over the tracks at a speed that shouldn’t be allowed near any sort of alternative transportation. Lately I’ve taken to bracing myself as best I can, although I’m fairly sure I always end up making some sort of unseemly face. Sorry fellow riders.

When I got to school, the principal was standing at the entrance, greeting everyone. He said “Good Morning’ to me, as I passed him on my way to the teacher’s office. A bit later, before he got busy, I gave him the gift I’d brought from the states with me; a shirt from Burnt Hills, my hometown school, that said ‘Burnt Hills Ballston Lake Spartans’ on it. I had to explain with the help of my LET, but I think he liked it? Of course, I’ll never see him wearing it, because it is too casual for him to wear to work (but the other teachers were casual things…) but I hope it fits. He told my LET to translate that he felt bad that he had no gift for me. I countered by telling him that I only had wanted to bring a little of my school to his school, no need for a gift. I hope he understood.

Speaking of gifts, I’ll be having my own Earthquake Banana hat. I’m more than excited, although I hope I never actually have to use it, as we are on the 3rd floor. Is that safer or not as safe, I’m unsure. When I actually get it, I’ll be sure to take a picture.

LET Ellen has given me a set of textbooks, one each for grades 1-6, which I will be coteaching with her. The teacher’s book is in Chinese, but I kind of like being left to imagine up lesson plans for myself. Because Ellen is so busy, I sat for most of the morning making up lessons myself; pages and pages of handwritten notes off the top of my head to expand on everthing from ABC to the weather. The books are quite skinny, and take a semester, so we only cover about one or two pages a day! More on this in future posts, because there is a lot to say already, and will certainly be more as I actually start using the lessons I create. Having minimal experience in planning, I’m interested to see how this goes.

I’m fortunate enough to have a nice desk of my own in the teacher’s office. My LET provided me with a toothbrush as well, which is something of which I approve. I’d always wished that I didn’t feel so stupid brushing my teeth at school in the states. I can walk around the faculty office and say hi to others, but most don’t speak English at all/so well, so it’s limiting. I’m supposedly going to be teaching the teachers English too, so hopefully we can create some sort of relationship that way. I’ve seen other Fulbrighters posting about their schools and the environment seems a bit more welcoming. Some teachers awkwardly say hi to me, but that might be all they can manage. I was told yesterday that my pronunciation was perfect, which was really kind. I’m trying my best, but I’m so frustrated about not really being able to speak as much as I thought I could. More in another post on that.

The computer on which I type is all/mostly in Chinese. It is also somehow unfortunately connected via wireless to the other classroom’s smart board with some extremely frustrating program that draws randomly when the other class moves their mouse. I’m thankful for access to the internet, but have been known to grumble about the mouse moving randomly.

So I shan’t bombard you. There is a lot to say, and I could honestly write about everything, but I’ll spare you every inner working of my mind. In typical Hannah fashion, I have a different journal for every purpose under the sun, which helps keep my thoughts organised in their right places. Hoping the wrong thought doesn’t spill over into the wrong place.

Love, Hannah

ps: Anything you’d like to hear about?