And the Semester Begins

I’m just over the hump of the first week of the fall semester. I’ve got two classes, one I had in the spring and the other is new. It’s good to have that mix of old and new. Though I shouldn’t be, I am stunned by how poor many students’ English is. I know while in the US, I became less attuned to their accents so pronunciation is a big problem. How these students will improve enough to understand an American teacher with no ESL or Chinese language expertise teach them financial management or marketing next spring is worrisome. Hmmm . . . talk about challenge.

The school has bought new desks and chairs for some rooms. So not everyone has to sit in long benches bolted to the floor. Though the Chinese don’t prioritize comfort. The new chairs have no upholstery whatsoever. Yet no one’s complained to me. I will credit my student’s fortitude. They might complain, but not to me.

I’m getting organized, though not as quickly as I’d hoped. I got my VPN reinstalled today so I can blog and watch Hulu and Netflix. There’s a number of things that need fixing, ceiling lights, the TV, the hotplate burner thing we have to cook with. One by one they’ll get done, but it always takes longer than planned. It took a couple days just to get the lights, when I thought putting in a new bulb would be so simple. I thought the VPN would take 15 minutes, but it took almost an hour. I always budget my time for tasks based on perfect conditions, but so rarely are things as simple as I think they should be.

I’ve got a good group of colleagues. They seem easy going and have lots of good ideas. On Saturday we spend three hours sharing ideas informally. Despite jetlag, the time flew by. I have seen some of the new Australians, but haven’t had that much time to get to know them. I do envy, ever so slightly, their proximity as far as time zones go. We both have to spend more than 11 hours on a plane to get here, but the North Americans cross so many more time zones. I’m still not in sync, partly due to the utter lack of sun, or presence of haze and pollution.

In addition to my teaching duties, I need to do some homework of my own. I’m taking an online course through the University of Illinois‘ Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences. I had to stay up till midnight Tuesday to participate in the 11 am – noon tutorial for their online platform. That wasn’t easy given that I woke up at 3 am. My class is Saturday and I’ve done a bit of the reading, but not all. Fortunately, my workload tapers off after Tuesday.

4 thoughts on “And the Semester Begins

  1. Have a great semester! I had 6 hours of ESL training locally this week as a volunteer. Mostly around here there are Spanish-speaking. What method do you use? I have limited Spanish. I am not sure that this is what I want to do but I am exploring. The San Patricio County Adult Literacy Council is in the middle of changes but I have no experience in this area. I cannot imagine how you do it with Chinese-speaking students.


  2. My students all have had several years of English before they reach university so that makes things somewhat easier. You raise a big question and many would answer differently. I like using Caleb Gattengno’s Silent Way approach, but there are others. Often people use a mix of textbook, Total Physical Response, and just go little by little beginning with the concrete and present tense and moving up through more abstract and complex aspects of language.


  3. Thanks for sharing your insight. They had Laubach books and touched on Total Physical Response. It did seem like a mix of methods and sources and much depended on the student or students needs.


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