It’s been awhile since a last update. What with the school year starting, daily pool swims, organizing new lessons for the freshmen, and currently a 1-week holiday from Oct 1 – 7 (dubbed Golden Week) commemorating the founding of the People’s Republic of China, just hasn’t been a lot of time to write.
What my main time-consuming efforts have entailed has been the English Language Resource Center which, I am proud to say, is finally under way to regular use.
The Plan and Set-Up
After returning to China in mid-August, I spent the entire time getting the English Center in working order.
My Center plans for the beginning of the semester included: Hosting a grand opening for teachers and leaders, having regular “Open Door” hours 2-3 times a week, enlisting student volunteers to help clean, monitor and assist in the room, and creating a classroom material development section.That particular area I hoped to constantly supply with free materials (English reward stickers, construction paper, glue, markers, crayons, tape) for the 3rd year English Education majors to use during their weeks of practice teaching, or what we in the States call Student Teaching.Many create their own visual aids but have to pay for those out-of-pocket.Not in the Center.All materials would be free, with plenty of space for our future English teachers to develop their teaching aids with advice, suggestions or help from others.
With such plans in my head, I’ve spent the last 6 weeks getting those into a reality situation.
With funding from UMW groups and others, I purchased a very nice flatscreen TV. A tabletop printer/copier will follow soon. I also picked up a few other furniture items that I felt were still needed, stocked the Arts and Crafts area with lots of extra supplies and the sticker drawers, free for all student use, are overflowing.
I also brought quite a few books in my suitcase back with me to stock the shelves but I really need more. Seems the children’s illustrated storybooks are a great level for my students and visitors who are non-English majors. I will be working on those additions over the next few years.
The First Intro Visits: Seniors First
My 3rd year (senior) classes started Sept. 3 in which I teach Activities in the Classroom.
That first week was my big introduction to the English Center. I had students divided into groups and mandatory visits which included filling out worksheets of all the Center had to offer. My 140 seniors were required to find things in all the different sections of the room that I set up. Once they finished the sheet, they could hand it in and go.
I thought most would hurry up to get out of there as they have things to do but . . . . so many stayed and spent a lot of time enjoying the room.
One Thursday, I monitored the room from 2:30 – 6:30 p.m. and the next day, I was there from 2:30 – 7 p.m. No one wanted to leave!
One comment made by a senior on her worksheet was this: “I feel like the room is a sea of English. There are so many books, magazines and games to play. It is wonderful!!”
My Freshmen, Yet to Come
While the school year started for underclassmen on Sept. 3, the freshmen were still in the process of orientation, which includes doing military training for 3 weeks. This is mandatory for all college and high school freshmen.
A local army base is used and sends young soldiers to be the sergeants to direct students in this sort of thing. Basically, the new students march around in their departmental platoons early morning to late at night on the sports’ field. They learn how to function well in an environment that has a lot of freedom (more than they’re used to). They are instructed how to independently live on their own, how to work together as a team, get along with others, be united as a class and take their studies seriously.
Of course, I’ve been eager to meet my 150 freshmen but that had to wait until Sept. 24. And after that week, we now are having another full week of holiday time before we can finally start up in earnest on Oct. 8.
I haven’t had time to show the first years all that the Center has to offer but will be doing that in a week or so.
In the meantime, the day before the holidays, I enlisted the help of Ice (seated, center), the president of the English Association, to find me volunteers who are free Monday evening, from 7 – 9 p.m., to help me with our first Open Hours of Center visiting times.
I have an eager group of young people who have already signed up for being in the room with me to help when students appear to see what we have to offer.
We start on Monday, right after the holidays. I’m not sure how many will come or if many will come. It depends on how much the word has gotten out but I do hope we have a good turn-out.
We had a great crowd for movie night, as you can see below. I showed Mrs. Doubtfire for Mid-Autumn Festival, which is a holiday devoted to family reunions. It fit in well with the theme and even if their English wasn’t up to it, the English subtitles and the acting itself made up for those with poorer listening skills than others.
Here is the slideshow of the Center. For all who have helped stock this with supplies, many, many thanks for all your contributions!!