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It feels like it’s been ages since I’ve written anything for you about the humdrum of our daily life, so I figured I might as well give you a taste of what it’s like to be an English teacher in the land of Mandarin. Admittedly, our school is one of the best in all Shenzhen, but still, some days you are constantly reminded that the intricacies of English are often lost on those learning it as a second language.

For my lesson a few weeks ago, I did an overview of dating and romance–a generally easy topic to teach, since the students hardly ever have the chance to talk about these sorts of things. Dating in Chinese schools is frowned upon by parents and teachers alike, and relationships are seen as distractions from the all important Gaokao, the (extremely rigorous, incredibly high pressure) test that every student must do well on in order to attend a university. This is all beside the point though, and just intended to give you a bit of a feel for the atmosphere of these classes. The students are usually nervously excited to talk about  these things with the semi-official endorsement that I provide.
So anyway, one of my favorite activities for discussing romance, borrowed from Adrianna, is making Haikus. It’s a good language focus, because students have to pay attention to syllables, and thus how they are pronouncing their English. It also requires some basic creativity, which these students need to spend more time practicing. To get the students on board, I showed them a couple of examples, and then had the class build a Haiku together, one student giving me one word at a time. The results were…interesting, and I felt that it was worth sharing with you.
Senior 1, Class 12:
Love you so much God,
Window Curtains like you too
Romantic Lovers
Truly, this is a masterpiece of romantic imagery. Who can deny the passion implied between God and the (2008 Beijing Olympics themed) window curtains?
Senior 2, Class 15:
Emotion is good,
Love is wonderful too, YEAH!
I love the rainbow.
Such an open, all-accepting sentiment, if a little antipathetic about emotion in general.
Senior 2, Class 1:
This is only you,
You think: who is the meatball?
Oh! How terrible!
This one…this one I don’t quite understand. Is it a statement on the existence of a spirit (aren’t we all just meatballs?) Does it question the meaning of life (oh! how terrible!)? Truly, these students have mysterious minds.
There were many, many more Haikus produced by my exemplary students. All of them made about this much sense. Still, all of the students took the point and focused on not just what they were saying, but on how they were saying it. It was a good lesson, and a good week.
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