Posts Tagged Traveling
Teaching English in China
It’s ironic. 4 months ago, I asked myself at the LAX gate, what would await me on my journey to China? What will I encounter during my lessons while I teach English? Who will I meet? Will they like me? Will I like them? I wonder what they will think of me. And so on…
The above picture evinces the answer to my above questions, fears, anxieties and thoughts. It really is ironic how 3 months ago, I had never heard nor seen any of them. They had no idea who I was either. And yet… they affected and changed the course of my life. And I don’t mean just the students: my co-workers, the atmosphere, the environment and the numerous people I met in China made me feel like a celebrity!
Teaching English (my mother tongue) was not my greatest challenge. I credit my experience with Primerica Financial Services and Moneythink for the public speaking and mentoring that was required that had me well-prepared for this gig. That does not mean that I was not anxious or scared doing that demo class that bestowed me a job offer. I almost pissed my pants. It’s interesting noting back on that experience because those same 12 students in my demo class became some of my closest friends. Time felt like it elapsed quicker than Michael Vick running a 40 (yard-dash). I can recall my first encounter with my first stranger, Ronald whom I so graciously met in the LAX boarding room. I believed he foreshadowed how many more interesting and amazing individuals I would meet on this China trip and that’s precisely what occurred. Leaving my moment of nostalgia aside, I have learned many things these past 3 months teaching English.
My students ranged from 5-40 year olds. I taught everyone in that range of students—from your average kindergartener, middle school, or high school student to your university students to your millionaire business people, to secretaries (called office girls in China—lawsuit in America?!), to your mid-aged house wife, etc.
Now then, I taught starter level classes—students that have just began their quest in learning English and speak very minimally. My goal is to provide them with a significant amount of vocabulary, build their confidence and provide them with the basic grammar rules and English skills.
In order to teach these students, it requires an exuberant amount of patience, especially teaching the younger students. Something I am not accustomed to even after my previous experience with Moneythink. I have to thoroughly build upon their confidence and provide them with answers, but simultaneously challenge them to learn new words and form short sentences in a logical manner. It can be difficult to sit there, but I have studied Chinese for a year and I can sympathize with many of the frustrations in learning a new language. I had to adapt and acquire patience to make sure they were learning. Not only that, but I had to make sure the classes were entertaining. I wonder if it’s possible to make the class a competition and instead of just standing there and speaking, show constant excitement, change the tone of voice, and most importantly, engage with the students!
I also taught beginner, elementary and intermediate students. These students were on a similar quest to learn and practice as much as possible. I was their gateway in requiring these students dreams come true (except for those that were forced to study by their parents).
Maximum of 10 students, these classes are like your typical university classes that teach students similar to any high school language class. I teach the students new vocabulary while simultaneously teaching them grammar rules, proper pronunciation, sentence making, writing, reading, thinking, speaking and listening all in English.
I have the students enact certain dialogues based on their skill level or difficulty. There is a specific theme that I must follow, and lead the class while they are reading, correcting their mistakes in pronunciation or if they need help understanding words or sentences. I guide them through the dialogues as well.
These classes are strictly 1-on-1. They pay high amounts of money and recommend the class and we have to follow what they ask of us, providing them with the lesson plans and everything related with it.
This is my chance to shine. I have a 1 hour class where I teach whatever I like and do whatever I want with the class. I created classes tailored to what I was passionate about to what the students found entertaining. I played word games, sentence games incentivizing the students with small prizes to the winner. Or I would create a small scenario or list some characters and tell the students to enact or create a scene using only English words during the presentation.
Here’s what I learned:
Many of the students complained that they had to think too much and told me that they don’t usually do this much in school. I asked them many questions relating to how/what they are taught in high schools there and they said they usually memorize, keep doing problems sets, read and write. They were excellent writers and readers! I was not surprised at all that they were incredible at math as well. However, when it came to public presentations or fundamental business skills, this is where I saw many of the students lack. I tried my best to improve the student’s ability to question and use their creative talents and build up their character as much as possible. Some of them were young, but I tried harder to reach out and find out what many of the students loved or were passionate about. I tried my best to connect with them on this level.
Opportunities in china if barriers to entry (getting long-term F-visa, speaking Chinese and understanding the culture – can be done with partnering with another business) can be overcome:
- they need a school or program that teaches them the fundamentals of doing business (sales tactics, marketing elements, mastering social networks for business) – did not see many of these
- They need an entrepreneurial program that can structure a way to allow many of these students to use their creative talents into feasible businesses.
- Create a program similar to toastmasters where the students can build confidence and learn public speaking so that they can listen and speak with more fluidity and confidently
Overall, it was the best three months of my life and was a learning experience that I think anyone, if given the opportunity, should undertake because it helps the teacher building patience, confidence to speak in front of a public audience, build lasting friendships and allows the teacher to become better at providing instructor. And you get to learn about the culture, people, places to visit, and sometimes, the students will take you there for free and give you a tour as well! It’s a learning experience for both the students being taught and the teacher!
“Holla. Prepare to get Squalla”
Ok, so this is not exactly how my Thailand trip turned out, but it was still profound and filled with spectacular and memorable adventures.
Firstly, saying hello and Thanks in Thai is not at all pronounced the way it looks. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong but, Sawatdee Khrab sounds more like Sawadee Khup and Kap coon Khrap sounds more like Hapoon Khup.
Now then… after a month and half in China, I was finally about to reunite with my family and have a real 1-week vacation from China and work. I attended a close family friend’s wedding and simultaneously saw many attractions in Thailand.
I woke up exhausted from my 4 hours of sleep, but thrilled at the same time on June 21st. There was nothing more that I wanted to do than get into the plane and sleep for a few hours, but that’s not what happened. My bags were locked and loaded and I graciously went through the security measures at the airport and had a couple hours to kill. They had free WiFi and I pulled up some articles for me to read during the plane ride. I arrived in Guangzhou within a couple hours for my layover and left to Thailand within 2 hours. I arrived in Bangkok at 6:00 pm. I was on the edge of my seat, my emotions were like the rising function of a roller-coaster, right before that first big drop that sends a jolt through your nerves. However, my roller-coaster of emotions became stuck at the very peak when I found out that I had to wait 3 hours for other wedding attendees to arrive before I could depart to the hotel (a 50 dollar taxi ride away from the airport). My eagerness along with my anxiety dropped and I bored my way to the Renaissance Hotel by 10:00 pm. Oh wells, I figured I made it and there was no point in letting my mood sour up what would be a great night so I did not allow the wait to disappoint. I quickly freshened up and found a note from my dear mother which read “We are at the Intercontinental Hotel across the street, come there right after you freshen up, we are eating dinner there.” Oh how I love her :). I ran faster than the wind!
I set out across on my mission to meet my family and see their astonished looks as they would see the new me (I dyed my hair orange from the front).
They met me just as I had pictured they would, enthralled without noticing any of my physical changes, until well, a few minutes after they were able to allow my presence to sink in. Much to my surprise, they did not react negatively or positively, but more like “oh you look like you came from China,” I guess I got what I wanted?
Either way, I devoured down the multi-ethnic dinner without a breath of hesitation and joined my brothers on an outing for the night. It was one to remember all right. Actually every day/night was a great one.
It was a bonding experience and a much needed vacation for the entire family. We saw as many city attractions around a 2-hour driving radius of Bangkok that we possibly could.
It was one of grandeur and a place where we had an opportunity to meet many people. The location: inside the Renaissance Hotel. How convenient? My brothers and I met many new friends and were able to bond more closely than ever before.
Buddhist Temples near Bangkok:
We visited many temples alright. I found it hilarious that we were not allowed to wear shorts or wife-beaters (which explains the funky shirt and pants that my cousin Raj and I are wearing). We just goofed around and took in much of the scenery. Unfortunately, we did not pay for a tour guide so we did not get a cultural and religious understanding of Buddhist history and what’s the purpose behind the temple and the people.
Then, we went on a boring boat ride that we mistook for the floating market. Miss-communication can really be inefficient and waste loads of time and money. I have had plenty of similar experiences in China. Anyways, I took a few pictures (a few hundred) of our surroundings. It was relaxing, but tiring nonetheless–especially with the scorching heat and humid weather. We then topped off the day by observing the gigantic lying Buddha. The temple was massive and I was able to learn a few things about Buddhism there. This was our first day traveling after the wedding concluded… or so we thought.
We later found out that the couple was hosting a young adult’s-teen party. We became great friends with both the groom’s side (Thailand natives) and the bride’s side (the doctors—more cardiologists than I ever thought I would meet in my life). Great people, night and party!
Next stop; Pattaya Beach:
Before we went to the beach, we ate at Pupen’s Seafood, this was our lunch after the 2-hour drive and we ate what would have been a $400 meal in the U.S. for under $90. We had Tom Yung soup (the best shrimp I’ve ever had, and I am not a shrimp fan). I also had a delectable fried fish (LOVED IT!), along with many other sea critters. Then we headed to the beach.
Quite possibly the best beach I have been to, the water was warmer than the shower I took that morning—seriously—and the sand also was a complete different texture as well. When my foot rubbed against the bottom of the water bed, it felt like I was walking on foot massaging scrubbers. Not only that, but the people were sincere and offered us food, drinks etc at a very affordable price. The weather was welcoming us with its tropically alluring aura and boy was it heavenly. We quickly befriended the locals and they were more hospitable than I could have imagined for how intimidating they looked. They provided us with some sheer entertainment and soccer, followed by a Jet Ski ride.
Then to top it off, we ate at Gian’s. This was the BEST restaurant I have ever eaten at, or at least in the TOP 3! The owner of the restaurant was friendly to top it off and I recommend that anyone in or near Pattaya beach go to this place. The owner is an Italian gentleman who moved his restaurant from Manila, Phillipines to Thailand 5 years ago. His food is imported from around the world. An example of this would be the lambchops from New Zealand. He knows the best foods from around the world and serves it freshly cooked. I had a pizza and it was the top 3 best pizzas I have eaten in my life. The food is to die for.
We again went to another temple. It was a different setting, but we again did not have anyone there to explain the cultural significance, so we just observed and followed suit. Also, I took many pictures as well.
On our small quest of attending the floating market we ate fulfilling seafood along the way—and saw some elephants as well trying to trample us and seduce us with their dancing.
But Land ahoy! We found the floating market. There was plenty to see and shop. Although more expensive relatively speaking when comparing the costs to the city, it was worth seeing and much cheaper to buy things when using the power of the American dollar.
We even decided to try Happy Feet—where small fish nibble away at dead skin. It’s supposed to be therapeutic and similar to a pedicure, but I thought of it more as tickle-torture. Whatever you may want to call it, the picture tells the story fairly well.
There were ample number of activities available with plenty more to see, but with the 3-4 hours of rest I had per day/night we accomplished more than I thought imaginable. Thailand was spectacular, but more importantly because of the bond I was able to share with my loved ones (especially my three brothers). We created some ridiculous memories and did things that I am certain we may not have the opportunity to experience again—but if given a chance or opportunity; I would do anything to relive Bangkok again.
Places I still need to see: Ko-Samui, Phuket, experience Full moon party, smaller islands around Thailand!
Entering into the unknown –It is thrilling, scary but exciting. I am traveling to China and many parts of Asia during the summer. I have a slight idea of what I will be experiencing, but based on previous experiences, I know that I will be making new discoveries about my likes and dislikes. The scariest part about this trip is that I will be traveling alone for the first time. No parents, cousins, family members or friends will be there for the support. I will have to make new friends and find my way around China.
I wonder what I will uncover during my journey. Who will I meet? Will I be able to make friends? Will they like me or accept me? Will I be able to adapt to the Chinese culture? What will await me when I arrive? These are all thoughts and questions that I am certain most people consider when traveling into a new culture.
I have taken two Chinese classes and wo hui shou shongwen yidiar, but will this be enough for me to find my way around in China? I am certain that I will be practicing my Mandarin while I am in China.
I wonder what are some cool places that I should see while I am there. I’ll make another post about what I am doing there very shortly.