Raoul's China Saloon (V4.0 Beta)

The Bar Room => The Bar (ON-TOPIC) => Topic started by: Playdough on January 08, 2012, 08:27:00 PM

Title: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Playdough on January 08, 2012, 08:27:00 PM
I'm leaving for China in roughly a month.  I feel like there's more I should be doing to prepare for teaching and living in a foreign country.  Should I just keep searching for ESL games and lessons to take with me?  Its the teaching aspect that's causing me the most grief.  I'm the kind of guy who likes to prepare well in advance for things, so the unknown does bother me a bit. 
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: James the Brit on January 08, 2012, 08:28:56 PM
If the unknown/unpredictable bothers you, don't move to China...
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Playdough on January 08, 2012, 08:58:17 PM
Na, I'm up for it.  If there's truly nothing I can do at this point to make myself more prepared, I can accept that.  If there is though, I want to know :D 
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: gonzo on January 08, 2012, 10:58:56 PM
A bit more detail would help. Have you taught before? What age group are you working with? Are you left to your own devices [most common], or given a specific course and materials? For children, there's a host of stuff on the net: I'm sure the links page will help. Do prepare a first lesson though, a self-introduction. Photos help. Your school may have a data viewer in the classroom, or a TV if you put them on CD. Ask them.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Stil on January 08, 2012, 11:06:09 PM
Learn some Chinese. Learn to count aloud and try to learn some characters for foods. It will give you a leg up on shopping and restaurants.

Set up a Veeee,Peeee,eeeeeeN. Maybe don't buy it yet , but prepare so that once you have Internet service you can.
 
Have a credit card or put money in a PayPal account so you can pay for things like that.

If you are a reader, pick up an e-reader of some kind. Way easier/cheaper than buying/finding books, especially for a newbie.

Make out a will.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on January 08, 2012, 11:45:03 PM
Get ALL your immunizations, if you haven't already! yyyyyyyyyy

Eat and drink all your favorites; might be a while before you see them in recognizable form again.

Spend quality time with family and friends; might be a while before you see them in recognizable form again.

Stock up on new books, preferably nice light packable paperbacks (or Stil's e-reader).

If you're not in great shape, start taking a daily walk. You'll likely walk and climb stairs a lot more in China.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Playdough on January 09, 2012, 12:11:29 AM
A bit more detail would help. Have you taught before? What age group are you working with? Are you left to your own devices [most common], or given a specific course and materials? For children, there's a host of stuff on the net: I'm sure the links page will help. Do prepare a first lesson though, a self-introduction. Photos help. Your school may have a data viewer in the classroom, or a TV if you put them on CD. Ask them.
Never taught before.  Will be working with college kids.  I'm fairly certain I'll be left to my own devices (although there may be a textbook supplied). 

Good idea on preparing the first lesson.  I really want to keep my talking time down in these classes, so having lots of photos, activities, and things of that nature are what I'm really after. 

Raoul, I'm getting my shots next week when I visit the travel doc.  I went to Thailand fairly recently, so hopefully a lot of the shots I got for that trip will carry over.  Those things aren't cheap! 

I plan on just getting a kindle or one of those techy things and filling it up with books before I go.

As for the Chinese, Stil, I'm working hard on that via Pimsleur, which is a great program.  Hopefully I won't need a will!  I've granted power of attorney to my father, who I'm ok with acting on my behalf if I'm kidnapped by Chinese pirates. 
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: El Macho on January 09, 2012, 12:23:06 AM
It's a good idea to think of a lesson or two while you're at home, and once you're here it's pretty easy to get materials. Go to any big bookstore and check out the "English Language" or "English Linguistics" section and you will be able to find a huge number of books about how to teach. (Ur's Discussions that Work is an especially good text to have – you can get it here for 20RMB or so.)

I also second Stil's recommendation of a kindle or nook e-reader. Having one makes reading so much cheaper!

Pictures from home are good to have, as are some small gifts for coworkers.

You could also listen to Michel Thomas Mandarin or Pimsleur Mandarin for the next thirty days – doing so could help make the adjustment a bit easier.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Just Like Mr Benn on January 09, 2012, 12:42:41 AM
Is this going to be your first time living and working abroad?

Are you going to be in beijing / Shanghai, or somewhere (comparatively) smaller?

I think that you should prepare yourself for some of the cultural differences. I thought my first school in Argentina was terrible, but looking back now, it just didn't fit into what I was expecting.

I suggest typing 'how to avoid culture shock' into a search engine. Many of the tips you'll find are part and parcel of what people have said here. Learn a bit of the language. Reading this forum, and posting on it once you're here, will definitely help.

It's possible that your expectations of how good a teacher you need to be may be far higher than your schools, and standing on a pedestal trying to pull people up can be soul-killing. Far better to come in with low expectations, and then raise them if necessary.

As long as you've researched your school properly and swopped emails with current teachers, you should be fine. It's easy to get teaching resources here, apart from reference books, so if you have a copy of David Riddell's 'Teaching English as a Foreign Language', 'English Grammar in Use' (Raymond Murphy) or 'Practical English usage' (Michael Swan), bring them along. I've never seen them in schools, and Chinese equivalents are riddled with mistakes.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Playdough on January 09, 2012, 01:30:48 AM
Benn,

I lived in Thailand for six months a couple years ago after I finished college.  I wasn't working out there though, I was training Muay Thai.  I lived at a boxing gym over there most of the time, so the culture shock element of this trip is less concerning to me (though I'm not overlooking it) than the teaching element. 

I'm going to be somewhere much smaller than Beijing or Shanghai (Baicheng).  Thanks for the book recommendations.  I hope you're right about the teaching expectations thing.  Judging by how little the school cares about relevant experience they really can't be expecting much...
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: randyjac on January 09, 2012, 10:57:48 PM
These are great suggestions already posted. I might add a recommendation to acquire some realia that would be useful in teaching, as long as it doesn't take too much luggage space. Menus, train schedules, or application forms are examples.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: gonzo on January 09, 2012, 11:02:45 PM
You're probably there mostly for conversational English. Don't bore everyone, yourself included, by teaching grammar. Leave that to the local teachers. Conversation topics, debates, word games, the odd worthwhile movie etc. I prepped students for mock job interviews, searching small ads to buy a car or rent a flat: real life situations you can use to introduce vocab and common expressions.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Escaped Lunatic on January 10, 2012, 01:50:36 AM
If you survived 6 months in Thailand, China won't be quite as big a shock as it would be otherwise.

One recommendation.  If your skill with chopsticks isn't quite up to par, put away your forks and spoons today and eat only with chopsticks.  Far better to deal with that learning curve in your own home than messing up in front of coworkers and students.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: latefordinner on January 10, 2012, 01:59:58 AM
I'll agree with EL: if you have already dealt with living in a foreign culture, then the culture shock in China won't be so bad. So if you've missed one or more of the very good suggestions already given, don't sweat it too much. To me it looks like you've already done quite a bit of homework, and are pretty well prepared. It looks like your only real worry is the actual teaching, and you've done a good bit of work on that too.
I'll second some of gonzo's advice:
Quote
Conversation topics, debates, word games, the odd worthwhile movie etc. I prepped students for mock job interviews, searching small ads to buy a car or rent a flat: real life situations you can use to introduce vocab and common expressions.
Topic-based and situation-based learning seems to work quite well with adults and near-adults. Look at the Interchange/NewInterchange series, at the old Expressways series, for example. These are easy to teach, and not without the useful grammar that the students claim to know but can't use to save their lives. (To be fair, neither can their Chinese teachers, BTAS) Anything that puts the target language into context helps sustain interest.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Playdough on February 06, 2012, 09:08:04 AM
Giving this thing a little bump as I'm set to leave in the next couple weeks.  Still nervous as F@#K!!  Been having the occasional nightmare about going up in front of the class and stuttering and running out of things to say in the first 5 minutes.  I keep asking myself how the F I'm going to do this.  I'm much less nervous FIGHTING than I am having to TALK in front of large groups of people.  I guess that's why this is an important experience for me to have.  If you're nervous, just fake confidence and pretend you're the boss, right?  :)
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Fozzwaldus on February 06, 2012, 09:23:33 AM
stuttering and sweating are all good, you'll only do that once and never have to worry about it again... you can even make a joke about it.

running out of things to say, well, that shouldn't be an issue if you've planned a good intro lesson that isn't based around you talking anyway.

here's one I've been churning out for nearly ten years, never fails to get 'em chatting.

1. Teacher Intro

put 5 answers to Qs about you on the board, have the student shout out the questions.

e.g. 27 (How old are you?)

make them progressively more cryptic, I like to end with a woman's name, Wendy, that has them guessing all sorts of relations to me (girlfriend etc etc), but in fact it's the name of a pet turtle that I had in Xi'an in 2005.

Silly, but it breaks the ice.

2. Student Pairwork Intro

Ss do the same thing. First they have 5 mins to write 5 answers to Qs about themsleves, secretly, on a piece of paper, then they swap answers with a partner and try to guess each others questions.

Tell them in advance to make them a little tricky if possible, and to make note of their partners Q+A, because in the end they will have to introduce their partner to the class.

Depending on the size of your group, that is a nice 50 minute class period, with techer-performing time cut down to introductions and explanations.

ONce you get this first class out of the way you will have an idea of their level, and you won't be nearly as nervous standing up in front of them again.
 
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: The Local Dialect on February 06, 2012, 09:39:26 AM
My advice is that for the first class, plan more activities than you'll actually end up needing. That way if something is a bust, the students don't cooperate and an activity that you planned on taking up 20 minutes of classtime fizzles out and is finished after 5 minutes (and this does happen, so irritating!) then you will have a backup plan.

Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Playdough on February 06, 2012, 07:39:11 PM
I'm definitely going to have backups, LD.  I'm so nervous I'll probably plan 3 hours of material for this first one.  

Fozz, that's a great idea.  I was thinking maybe I could bring in some pictures to go along with the words I write on the board.  Maybe a pic of my mom, a pic of me doing a hobby, a pic of my state, etc.  I could hand them out one by one as the students guess them.  Might eat up some extra time and make them a little more interested in me.  
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Playdough on February 06, 2012, 07:42:54 PM
BTW, are people interested in martial arts and boxing in China?  Could I mention stuff like that about myself without making people uncomfortable or looking like a douche?  I have some pics of me training and fighting that they might find interesting or funny. 
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: ericthered on February 07, 2012, 12:27:57 AM
As other members have said, get an e-reader (I recommend a Kindle).

If you have any idea of what you are going to teach, gather materials. For instance, if you know you have to teach British/American Culture, make use of the fact that you are not behind the GFW and download pictures, texts for class.

If you have pictures of you doing martial arts, bring them and use them as an ice-breaker in class. China is, after all, the home of Gong Fu and I can assure you your students will not be scared, on the contrary, they will think you are ever so cool. Be ready for gasps, the ever-present sound "Wahhhh" and the words "Tai Li Hai" which means very strong/capable.  agagagagag agagagagag
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Fozzwaldus on February 07, 2012, 01:59:05 AM
I'm definitely going to have backups, LD.  I'm so nervous I'll probably plan 3 hours of material for this first one.  

Fozz, that's a great idea.  I was thinking maybe I could bring in some pictures to go along with the words I write on the board.  Maybe a pic of my mom, a pic of me doing a hobby, a pic of my state, etc.  I could hand them out one by one as the students guess them.  Might eat up some extra time and make them a little more interested in me.  

pics are a very good idea, if your classroom has a computer and a projector you could make a slideshow to go along with your answers, this way they can all ooh and ahh in unison.

make sure to post again and let us know how it goes!
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Pashley on February 07, 2012, 02:18:09 AM
BTW, are people interested in martial arts and boxing in China?

Just a little.

Quote
Could I mention stuff like that about myself without making people uncomfortable or looking like a douche?  I have some pics of me training and fighting that they might find interesting or funny. 

Yes, and training here would be a fine way to meet people. Look in public parks early in the morning. For example, in Fuzhou's Wu Yi Park, I found a couple of dozen groups practicing a wide variety of styles. Mostly unarmed, but some sword and staff.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Playdough on February 07, 2012, 03:59:56 AM
Thank you guys!  Another question: should I expect to be put on the spot at some sort of assembly or ceremony when I get there?  I've heard of some people being forced to do some kind of performance on the fly, like a dance or sing or whatever.  That sounds fucking awful.  What should I do if it comes to that?  I can't dance or sing for shit.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Fozzwaldus on February 07, 2012, 04:13:46 AM
don't count on it, it never happened to me. if it does happen, just refuse politely, make an excuse like you 'feel uncomfortable' which in China means you feel unwell, i.e. headache.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Escaped Lunatic on February 07, 2012, 06:43:19 AM
Thank you guys!  Another question: should I expect to be put on the spot at some sort of assembly or ceremony when I get there?  I've heard of some people being forced to do some kind of performance on the fly, like a dance or sing or whatever.  That sounds fucking awful.  What should I do if it comes to that?  I can't dance or sing for shit.

Most schools require new FTs to attend a school assembly on the first day.  During that, you'll be brought up on stage, stripped naked, and forced to do an interpretive dance to the most recently released speech from a member of the CCP's Central Committee.

While doing that, just remind yourself that at least they didn't make you sing. ahahahahah
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Sam Smith on February 08, 2012, 12:54:05 AM
 bkbkbkbkbk
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: gonzo on February 08, 2012, 01:16:44 AM
Just remember that the amount of learning that happens in an EFL classroom has an inverse relationship to the amount of talking the teacher does. Chinese students love teacher talk, because they don't actually have to do anything, even listen, if they're not in the mood.
Title: Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
Post by: Playdough on February 08, 2012, 03:23:15 AM
haha, some funny replies, thanks guys.  glad to hear i most likely won't have to do a performance.  the schools give you some time to settle in as a teacher, right?  I just have this image in my head of a the dean telling me after one week, "You no good, sorry, you go home."  i get the feeling that even as a newb teacher im still going to be hard to replace, given the remoteness and awful winters of the town im going to.