I have to be a little careful how I blog about this trip for various reasons. Let’s just say that we’re not working with the rich posh schools nor the government schools. The project here is to help children who really are poor get an excellent education, which can sometimes by a complicated business!
Anyway today we had the first day of a week’s training with the teachers from our two schools. We also got to look around the actual school and just like in India even though most teachers in the UK would probably cringe at the classrooms, I didn’t think they were bad at all. A class isn’t the room and if you look at the kid’s eyes then you can see if it’s a good school or not, even if they don’t have all the material things. The one material thing missing here though is heating, it became very cold when the sun went down, but Japan is the same in that regard and they have all the money in the world!
Kids waiting for school to start in the morning.
Lack of heating is not a problem for Genki English though, I was doing it in a T-shirt after moving around so much. I’m not sure how the teachers did it in heeled boots though!
I did an hour in the morning with just a warm up and the usual Genki English rules and theories, then we had the excellent phonics training for an hour (their eyes were lighting up at the results of all the research in other places!) then I did another hour getting them genki and confident enough to fill whiteboards up with their problems, which would form the base of the “mini lecture” style parts of the rest of the week. The usual things came up like pronunciation, but also lots of classroom management issues like how to get students to pay attention, concentrate, be interested or not disrupt the class. These are all things we’ll cover when the teachers actually start teaching the Genki English lesson plans tomorrow, we’ll become students from hell and give them the materials to rein us in!
Differences in China?
One big difference between China and other countries is the textbook. In most countries I take one look at the textbooks and just throw them away as they are so bad. But here the textbooks are actually really good. They have good stories and illustrations with child centered language that builds from chapter to chapter. I was even tempted to forget Genki English and just go through how to use the book! But whilst we were testing to see if the kids could actually do the things in there I found out that most of the English was narrative rather than communicative. For example the kids can say things like “There is a big bear over there” but there weren’t many questions I could just ask the kids to see if they could answer me. So it looks like Genki English will be needed in that respect, and as long as we cover all the good stuff from the textbook as well everything should be OK, after all these teachers are going to become amazing teachers by next week!