• Home
  • Search
    •  
  • Login
    • Username: Password:

      Did you miss your activation email?

Author Topic: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)  (Read 6909 times)

Playdough

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 27
What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« 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. 

James the Brit

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 999
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2012, 08:28:56 PM »
If the unknown/unpredictable bothers you, don't move to China...

Playdough

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #2 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 

gonzo

  • Limboid
  • Posts: 1133
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #3 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.
RIP Phil Stephens.
No static at all.

Stil

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 4800
    • ChangshaNotes
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #4 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.

Raoul F. Duke

  • Lovable Rogue
  • Despot in Absentia
  • *****
  • Posts: 9572
  • "Be specific if you order the mushrooms!"
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #5 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.
"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

Playdough

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #6 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. 
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 12:23:29 AM by Playdough »

El Macho

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 756
  • 东北人都是活雷锋
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #7 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.

Just Like Mr Benn

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 603
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #8 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.

Playdough

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #9 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...

randyjac

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 209
  • 老骥伏枥
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #10 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.

gonzo

  • Limboid
  • Posts: 1133
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #11 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.
RIP Phil Stephens.
No static at all.

Escaped Lunatic

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 9985
  • Finding new ways to conquer the world
    • EscapedLunatic.com
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #12 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.
I'm pro-cloning and we vote!               Why isn't this card colored green?
EscapedLunatic.com

latefordinner

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 2378
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #13 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.

Playdough

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: What Should I Be Doing to Prepare? (1 Month Out)
« Reply #14 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?  :)