Archive for the ‘language skillz’ Category

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Things That Make Me Happy

October 17, 2006

I’ve been in a brighter mood lately, so I felt a little optimism was in order.  Here are some things that make me happy here, in whatever random order they pop into my mind:

1. Not being (very) sick. For the first time in a long time, I am more or less healthy.  As it turns out, not constantly feeling miserable does wonders for one’s mood. 

2. Paying my bills.  Really.  The bills themselves are no fun, but paying them is terribly convenient.  I just scamper on down to the 7/11 right next door and they ring it up at the register like any other purchase.

3. Speaking Chinese. If I was ranking these in any particular order, this would be one of the most significant.  Unfortunately, it’s usually more a matter of being unhappy because I don’t speak Chinese, but tonight I’m flying high because I just had an actual legitimate conversation with a cab driver.  He complimented my Chinese and asked me where I’d learned it, where I’m from, how long I’ve been here, whether I’m a teacher or a student, etc., and I managed to come up with coherent answers most of the time.  Made my day.

4. Greasy night market food.  Good for the soul, if not the physique.  mmmm 鍋貼。

5. Carrefour.  My extraordinary discovery of the day.  I knew it existed, of course, but I hadn’t been there and I didn’t realize I cared until I took my kindergartners there on a field trip this morning.  Carrefour is a french chain of “hypermarkets”, basically filling the same niche as Wal-mart.   I feel somewhat guilty about being so happy about it.  I want to say that I have no interest in Carrefour, I’d rather just do all my shopping at local mom and pop stores or night/morning markets.  But when I first stepped into Carrefour…. I almost cried. (OK, not really, but I liked it a lot.)

6. Some kids, sometimes.   I’m not going to go so far as to say that my students always bring me joy.  In fact, a lot of them make me fairly miserable.  But I’ve got to admit, some of those little brats are alright.

Well, 6 things to be happy about isn’t a bad start.  I’m sure there would be more if I was in a thinking mood.  Suffice it to say, the sun is shining here in Luzhou.  (Not literally, of course. )

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Birthday/Work/Other Stuff

October 4, 2006

Yesterday was my birthday.  When my co-workers wished me Happy Birthday, many of them referred to it as my “first birthday in Taiwan”, leading me to ponder the likelihood that I will have more than one.

Anyway, I didn’t do much since I am once again down with a bad cold.  In fact, after Kindergarten this morning I gave up and took a sick day for my afternoon and evening classes so I could rest. 

Luckily I just have to make it through tomorrow and then I have Friday off for Moon Festival.  I don’t actually know what people do for Moon Festival besides eat moon cakes (a tradition in which I have been enthusiastically partaking), but I intend to celebrate by sleeping in, cleaning my apartment a bit, and seeing what I can manage to cook in my newly purchased toaster oven.

My other recent investment is a gym membership.  There’s a nice gym not far from where I live and several of my co-workers go there regularly.  I was a little intimidated by the prospect of figuring out how to sign up, but yesterday I decided to go for it.  I walked in and asked the lady at the front desk in Chinese if I could take a look at the gym upstairs.  She said yes, and that she’d call someone to show me around.  So I went upstairs and was met by another woman.  Then there was this terribly awkward moment when we all realized that I don’t actually speak Chinese and they went searching around for someone with decent English.  It all got sorted out in the end though.

I’ve never really explained exactly what my job is like, so here’s a brief summary:

On weekday mornings I teach kindergarten.  I have the same class every day, so I already know their personalities and abilities and all their little quirks so well.  I teach the youngest level of kindergarten, meaning my kids are three.  Until I came here, my contact with three year olds had basically ended when I turned four, and I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing.  As it turns out, I like kindy more every day.  The kids can be crazy, but they’re all sweet.  Also, I find it very rewarding when they actually learn what I’m trying to teach them because I know that this is their first experience with English.  Soon I will forget that my name isn’t “Teacha Kado!”

After Kindy I have anywhere between 1 and 7 hours of free time before I teach at the language school.  The kids in my afternoon, evening, and Saturday classes range from 8 year olds with basically no English to Junior High kids writing English essays (although I think I’m getting rid of that class soon).   I find these classes much more difficult and less rewarding than kindy.  I don’t know the kids because I only see them once a week, and most of them don’t want to be there.  I’m getting to the point where most of my classes go alright, but there are still a few I dread each week.

I could probably ramble on about the ups and downs of my job for pages and pages, but I’ll spare you.  Thanks to everyone who sent a birthday e-mail or comment my way!

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Training Part 2

September 7, 2006

Training continues to be long and exhausting. I have my second demo tomorrow morning and I just spent almost two hours working on it with my group. It’s all over on Saturday… sort of. Next week I return for my one month follow up training, which of course is a little ridiculous, but it’s because I basically started late on a contract which began in August.

Fortunately, I really like all my fellow trainees. There are 22 of us altogether (I think). More Canadians than anything else, and only one person who isn’t North American. All of us are young (although I’m pretty much the youngest) and many of us just finished school. We seem to have a wide variety of reasons for coming here though.

So far I’ve mostly failed at communicating in Chinese, which is both frustrating and embarrassing. I’m not really a total beginner at this. I hope that once I’m in Luzhou and get settled in I’ll have more time to concentrate on my language skills.

Despite the stress of training week, when I step outside and see Taipei around me, I realize I’m very much in that honeymoon phase with Taiwan. I’ve barely had a chance to explore what’s right outside my door, but I suspect I might just fall in love with the place.