Finding the Rabbit
Nihao, and happy spring -
SPEC 4 came out! This is the new textbook whose CD we recorded back in January. I played a character named Carol. Now my voice has been published too!
I hope this update finds you well. For the past month, life has been both hectic and quotidian, meaning that a lot has been happening but none of it was worth writing home about. The constant – though not very cold, I know – winter rains seem to be finally loosening their grip on Keelung, and we’ve started seeing more and more sunny days. They laugh at me at the school because if I’m not in one of the classrooms I can often be found with my head stuck out the window in Jennifer’s office, like a dog. When it’s beautiful outside it’s hard to want to be inside a windowless classroom all day. Occasionally those nice days even fall on Sundays, and it's becoming our habit to meet up at the outdoor sports complex in the hills above town for a little badminton:
Stephanie and Nicole
Conferring - it was a bit windy that day
Alice is victorious!
Shane is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds, due partly to Jennifer’s aggressive marketing for the school and partly from a few very favorable referrals from current students, which is quite pleasing. My API01 (Adult Pre-Intermediate) class has reopened after a few months’ break, much to my delight. They’re a fun group of people, and their language level is high enough that we can have some very entertaining discussions. Last night was the first lesson of a second API01 class which meets on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Three students came to that class, and I heard a rumor that one or two more meant to come but couldn't yesterday. They too are very nice people and have no problems making rote sentence-making drills fun and creative.
After the success of the children’s reading and writing class that I taught over winter break, we have opened another one that meets for two hours on Saturdays. At the moment, there are only three kids enrolled in it, but there have been a few people who’ve shown interest and might send their kids over soon. In addition, I have a new adult writing intensive class which meets on Friday nights. Though very enjoyable, that class has been rather tricky. Half the class is much more advanced, language-wise, than the other half. We have a textbook which I don’t particularly care for, because it’s too easy and because it really only works on two verb tenses with little variation. Last week I printed an article from Yahoo about the discovery of a fossil in China which proves that mammals have been on the planet longer than previously thought, and that the role they played in Jurassic ecosystems was much more important than we’d thought too. Pretty interesting stuff. As it turns out, they think it’s interesting too but the language is way too hard. They’ve got the general concept, and do like talking about this subject, but the specific vocabulary has been tangling their poor brains up. To the Chinese mouth, ‘vertebrate paleontology’ is nearly suicidal to pronounce! So I have to find a balance for that class, somewhere.
And, as of last week, I have now completed my second full term at Shane. Three of my classes have finished their final exams and moved on to the next level. CE02, my whisper-quiet girls’ class (some of whom I’ve had since day one of CE01 back in September), is now CE03, and my raucous boys’ class has advanced up to CE04. And my junior high class, which meets for three hours on Saturday afternoon, has finished CJ06 and will begin CJ07 next Saturday. To wit:
API01: Rachel, Frentzen, and Oliver
CE03: Jason, Amy, Grace and Doreen
Stickyballs are essential to every English classroom.
Jason and Amy. This was Jason's first day of what had previously been an all-girls class.
Amy started out as one of the shyest kids I'd ever met. She kept her eyes on the floor and barely said a word the first few classes. Now look at her!
My junior high class: Judy, Jack and Cheyenne, on break before their final exam
Flannery, our new TA, and Charlotte
Bess and Alison
Alice, Ian, and Gibby goofing off in CE04
Gibby, David and Ian working on phonics
Ah, Ian! If only he were as good as he is cute!
Along with the end of the term comes the staff turnovers too. My second TA, Charlotte, left last week in order to focus on her university studies and take the GEPT (an English proficiency exam). Last Monday we ordered pizza and had a farewell party for her. And if I was worried about not ever seeing Nicole again, I was wrong; I don’t think there’s been a Shane party that she’s missed yet! In addition, Alice, our secretary, will be leaving in mid-April to prepare to study abroad, so that’s another guaranteed party heading our way. One of the things I keep being reminded of is how lucky I am to have been hired by Jennifer. The school is more than just a workplace for all of us, it’s a family, complete with a child and run by a mom. I can’t imagine being thrown into a busy school that’s already too big, and left to fend for myself, even if it’s another Shane school, which has a good reputation in Taiwan.
There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.
- Robert Louis Stevenson