My classmates (Hiyoshi, Yin Ting, Midori, Ya Di) and I entered the classroom on Monday with more than a bit of trepidation. We knew a couple of the students in that class, because they'd been with us for a short time, but the others were strangers. And damn, there were a lot of them! We were crammed in, thirteen students (by the time everyone arrived, because some people always come late).
I knew I was in trouble from the instant the teacher opened her mouth, because she was speaking Chinese at warp speed, and I didn't understand more than a couple of words. I was able to figure out that she wanted us to introduce ourselves, so we did that. When we started the text, it wasn't too bad, just reading the new words and the sentences. I thought it was good that she was having the students read the sentences containing the new words rather than reading them to us, gives us practice. But, she didn't really spend any time explaining the words to us. I'm OK, I can read the English translation, and I get it. But some of the Korean and Japanese students don't have that great a grasp of English, you know? Our other teacher was really good at giving us more examples of using the words and having us try to make a sentence ourselves. We just ripped through the words, and when she did try to explain, I missed 95% of it. Yin Ting was sitting on my right and Midori on my right, and we just kept looking at each other in horror. We ended up getting through the whole lesson in one week, and it has always taken two weeks before, which I prefer, since it will stick with me better if I spend more time studying it.
Also, we get the distinct feeling this teacher has more experience teaching small children than adults. She'll make a statement, pause for a long time with a silly smile on her face while we stare at her (I guess no one knows what she wants us to do), and then say, "Hao (OK)" and move on. What the f*ck? Midori says she's going to request a transfer because she's insulted at being treated like a child.
I can't remember if it was the first day or the second that Sam, the guy from Poland, complained to the front desk during our break, and then one of the secretaries, Yvonne, came in for the remainder of the class to see what was going on. She asked us afterwards what we thought, and of course we told her. She said the teacher was using more complicated language when she talked (no friggin' wonder I couldn't understand). Yvonne said she'd talk to her. But one of the complaints was also that thirteen students in one room was too much, and no one has tackled that yet.
OK, so every day in class I ask the teacher if she could please speak a little more slowly, telling her that I don't understand most of what she says. She'll slow down for a sentence or two, and then it's back to rapid fire Chinese. JEEZ! Fine, I'll ask her ten times during class if I have to get my point across. Friday she made us listen to some god-awful song while reading the lyrics. Ick. If she'd give us something contemporary (and by Wu Bai) maybe we'd be interested. One Japanese girl actually had her head on the desk, fast asleep, for part of the class!
I'm trying to look at the good points: 1) Her Chinese is very standard, very "biao zhun" - and that's good. It's best to learn the more standard way of speaking than the Taiwan-accented speech 2) She's young and probably trainable (I hope) 3) I still have fun classmates to study with (although the addition of a really weird guy from England isn't doing much to improve the class) 4) I need to learn to listen to a variety of voices and understand, so it's a good thing to have to adapt to hers (right? right?)
At least next week only has four days, thanks to the National Day holiday tomorrow. Wish me luck.