School’s Out

So, it’s the end of my first semester teaching oral English at Shanghai Normal University.

I’ve gotten to know around 400 students since February. I created an elaborate raffle system to motivate them, but sadly couldn’t find any raffle tickets for sale in Shanghai so had to make them… around 40 a day. My stationery and organisation obsession was truly pushed to the limit. Thankfully it paid off and the students got very excited about winning little pieces of paper which did not actually guarantee a prize because, you know, that’s the nature of raffles.

Somehow I learned all of the students’ names fairly early on. They mostly chose their own English names. The award for strangest name goes to… Terrorblade. Closely followed by Kyller, Pizza, Pope and Cherish. I also had the privilege of naming two nameless students. I named them after my friends Becky and Amy (the delectable Rebecca Hill and Amy Edwards). Let me know if you’d like to put in a request to become a student’s namesake next semester.

Teaching oral English to young adults in Shanghai has been quite illuminating, especially when students discussed their views on China and the world. The weekly culture lesson was perhaps the most revealing. I discovered that my all-female class believed all British men are gentlemen, all Irish men marry for life, all American men are humorous, all French and Italian men are romantic and all German men are serious. We talked about stereotypes/generalisations and I explained that these things are often untrue but I’m not sure they believed me. Many continued to insist that all British people have afternoon tea every day.

The last couple of weeks of term were dedicated to listening to and grading students in oral English exams. I had to endure listening to the same conversation again and again about what a ‘romantic and moving’ film Titanic is. Some had interesting discussions though. The most disturbing anecdote was from a boy who said one of his biggest regrets was killing a dog simply because it annoyed him by barking too much. The other students glared at him in horror and disbelief and he swiftly moved the conversation on…

Anyway, I may complain about having to get up at around 5:30 every day but I do get to work in a nice place, especially the Fengxian Campus. It’s a pain to get to and we have to go on a bus of death driven by an evil toad man but at least it’s pretty when we get there…

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2 Responses to “School’s Out”
  1. Fan says:

    Cor blimey! You mean to tell me you don’t have tea everyday?!

    • Alexis says:

      Indeed we don’t… though we do all live in castles and know the Queen personally.

      Actually I do have tea everyday, but not ‘afternoon tea’. That’s a totally different thing!

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