I count my blessing for having been able to get to know more about the Chinese culture and living in Quanzhou for a while.
Teaching in a University is easy. The students are grown up, disciplined and dedicated to their work. Their English knowledge is sometimes good and sometimes not. It depends on how difficult they find the language or how interesting.
They do study both spoken and written English and for some of them the spoken is too hard. There are sounds impossible to make and the grammar is complicated. This is for some, others enjoy the challenge.
Teaching in a Middle school is another story.
The students are young, from 14 to 20 years more or less. They have not conquered the advanced technique and some of them find English useless and boring. The juniors are those who have just begun studying the noble language and the seniors are the ones who have experienced what can be quite interesting.
The juniors’ knowledge is mostly rather limited. They would prefer to talk Chinese and have fun.
My schedule was that in the morning I taught the seniors, 2 classes, and after that I was quite bright-eyed and bushy-tailed prepared for my juniors in the afternoon.
After the junior class, even just one, the lady was beat, completely exhausted. Nothing left but to go home to bed and rest forever.
The junior class was completely uncontrollable. They talked and talked, repeating everything I said and it could be quite funny when I was scolding them and trying to get them to quiet down. Everyone was scolding and trying to make the class quiet but no one understood anything. I knew how to say, please be quiet, in Chinese but that did not help. Did I use that they just talked even louder admiring the foreigners’ knowledge of the pure language, their language. In the land there are newer short conversations. No, everything is discussed over and over and over again and no decisions made in haste.
My patience was tested many times, and even on the brink of braking to thousand pieces. Instead of just saying yes or no and the matter was over everything was repeated hundred and fifty times before end result.
It sometimes reminded me of engineers who have difficulties making a decision unless using the yardstick! Please forgive me, my engineer friends.
Even though sometimes the teachers’ patience was tested we had a lot of fun in my classes. During the brake we stood outside the classroom and talked. Those who wanted to learn more and practise had a conversation with the teacher just about everything and nothing.
Another opportunity, which I used well, was to have lunch in the schools canteen. There we sat together like a family and these hours made everyone happy. Some of the students I had lunch with still keep in touch even though I was not their regular teacher.
In China there are always competitions and coaching them and teaching them to speak with feeling was my favourite. They can memorise everything, that’s in the culture but showing a feeling is more difficult. My students won their competitions and the judges phrased them for the presentation. Wonderful!
I am grateful for my time in Quanzhou. It was fun, it was educating and everyone was willing to help me in any way needed.
I made wonderful friends there and will never forget the city.