TEFL, Zhongwen, and Narnia
It seems logical to begin with the TEFL portion of what I’ve been up to the last couple of days, since that is the real reason I’m here. As part of the training program, in order to prepare for teaching a full course load and designing our curricula for Shenzhen, we are given the opportunity by the very gracious Beijing University to teach, and thereby have almost complete control over, the summer program English classes that are held here at the University. These students are spending full days learning English, 6 hour-long classes per day, and we are given the privilege of teaching them. There are 11 sections, ranging from primary to university-age students and we teachers have been broken up into groups of 6, each of us taking one section of one grade level. These will be our students for the next 15 days, so we’re getting the chance to build a mini-curriculum while we’re learning the ins and outs and theories behind TEFL teaching. All very interesting. My class are Junior II’s which translates to 8th grade, and they are terribly bright. A couple of them are show-offs, a couple of them are punks, but in all it’s a really sweet group of kids and they seemed to respond pretty well to my lesson today which was about colors and articles of clothing. (We played Circle Dash and Charades, which may have helped things along a bit.) In all, I’m feeling pretty good about this whole teaching thing.
Not so much about this whole Chinese-learning thing. I’m going to have to settle in for a couple of days and see, but today’s lesson was almost a complete disaster as far as I was concerned. I think it was fine for the students who have just come out of advanced-level Chinese study, and there are a few of them, but I was completely lost for almost the entire 2 hour lesson (as were, it seems, about half of the rest of the class). I’m hoping my vocabulary will come back but it was particularly discouraging after the fun and success of my English-teaching class earlier in the day. I’ll keep you posted, though.
Narnia! This is the food part of the post. We are, as I think I mentioned, staying in a “Sports Hotel” which is basically a gymnasium facility for the university (?) and community. Behind the main entrance to the hotel there is a pool house, and if you walk through the pool house, through the back of a little convenience store, you come out on a street that is absolutely swimming in street vendors. I have it on good authority that Narnia, as it has been dubbed by the program coordinators, is one of the best places in the city for jiaozi (gyoza, steamed wonton dumplings) and baozi (steamed bun dumplings) and I can attest that– whether it is the best spot in the city, I have no idea, but– the dumplings are truly fantastic. Street food here in general is fantastic. Well, most of it. I have my doubts about the skewers of fried scorpion, but I was brave enough to try something that I think was a silkworm cocoon. Which was not delicious, but not inedible. And it was parked next the the skewers of chicken heart, which are not only edible but also absolutely scrumptious. Also I have eaten so much spicy pepper-laden stewed vegetable stuff that I’m pretty sure that my stomach lining is melting. Now that I know where the dumpling mecca is, my next adventure is finding where they keep the Uigher food. Mmmm. Roasted goat. Delicious.
I’ll probably be back soon to talk about more about the weather in Beijing, and specifically about the monsoon we had today. On the upside, we could actually see clouds, sky, and sunset this evening after the heavy rain, which was a real improvement over the otherwise oppressive smog cloud that will, I think, continue to amaze me for my whole visit…