Teaching in Taitung

Due to the Strangest LET to Have Ever Roamed the Halls of Fong Li and Fong Yuan Elementary Schools, I had a weird teaching schedule this semester. At one school, I’m solo-teaching six classes (first through sixth) once a week. It’s a little overwhelming, but I do enjoy seeing the kids, and it’s been a good challenge figuring out how to be adaptable and assertive at the same time. At my other school, I teach in 10 minute increment “review” sessions several times a day, as they don’t have the flexibility in their schedule to give me more time. It’s a bummer, but the science teacher has remarked that they’re learning more in my sessions than they are with the LET, so I know that I am making at least a little impact.

The kids themselves are overall really quite lovely. This may be due to the fact that I’m teaching exclusively in homerooms now, so they’re more well behaved in their homeroom teachers’ presence. But after hearing some scary/funny/horrible stories of my friends’ kids, I still feel pretty lucky to have my kiddos. Because their regular English class with the LET is quite dull (which is a euphemism, really), I’m trying to make my classes and review sessions fun. I want them to at least be interested in learning English and to associate some good memories with it. A few of the more motivated ones get quite curious and during breaks will ask, “How do you say [Chinese word] in English?” and I happily oblige.

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Fong Yuan sixth graders with their New Year Resolutions!

I was originally urged to only speak English (in and out of class) with the kids so they’ll be more motivated to learn English to communicate with me, but after months of repeated “How are yous?” to kids, I’m breaking down the non-Chinese barrier and have acquiesced speaking Chinese at times, especially with the younger kids outside of class. It’s a hard balance between wanting to connect with them through Chinese versus wanting them to learn English, but what with the Unique English Teaching Situation this year, I’m giving myself some leeway so I can get to know the kids better.

I’m lucky that all the homeroom and elective teachers have been so kind and accommodating with me coming in and out of their classrooms, helping with classroom discipline, and just giving me time to be with the kids. They also can be a riot amongst themselves. The staff at Fong Li are particularly a fun bunch who are always joking and laughing with each other, and it’s nice to be surrounded in this atmosphere/氣氛 (qi4 fen4), even though I’m not completely sure what they’re talking about some of the time.

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