Students' First Day at Lih Jen
I met my students for the first time on Tuesday. There are 32 of them so far. The number keeps changing. They seem decent. Their English ability varies widely. The best speaker can form complex questions in complete sentences, although she has a thick accent. The worst speaker does not know his English name and can not respond to simple yes/no questions. Teaching them is going to take some work. But, that's always the way.
I spent the first day observing and aiding my Chinese partner, Sophia. It was deathly boring. The lessons were all in Chinese, so I understood little, and most of it was introduction, review, or clerical work. I introduced myself, stapled letters into the student's workbooks, and helped with classroom management. By the end of the day, there was little for me to do and I sat at Sophina's desk in the back of the room reading the newspaper. She didn't seem to mind. She's nice enough, if a little disorganized. I hear she doesn't have a lot of experience teaching. Whatever I did she liked it. She gave me a big bow at the gate as I left and told me she was very lucky to have such a good partner. I don't believe her.
Today, from what I gathered, Sophia had a lot of clerical work to do and little planned in the way of a lesson. Here English is spotty so I have to infer a lot. She asked me to "take care of the students" while she worked. This translated as teaching the students for three hours. The English teachers were told they weren't going to start teaching until Thursday, so I didn't have anything prepared. It's nothing new honestly. I used to go into class with nothing prepared in Korea on a regular basis. But, it did take a little more hustle because I didn't have the students broken in yet or wasting-time materials ready at hand. Nonetheless, the lesson was okay for what it was. It did the job: kept the students occupied and relatively quite.
I was officially supposed to start teaching tomorrow. But, that's not going to happen because of typhoon Talim. The earliest I'll have the kids is Friday and it may be as late as Monday. It's a shame, too. I spent a good part of last week preparing lesson plans and my classroom. The place looks okay. It was incredibly messy when I arrived. The teacher before me was in the room for several years and it showed. There were petrified melon slices, dead cockroaches, and layers of dust, dirt and trash. I might have gone too far the other way though. My room resembles a 1950s mental ward now, with its shiny beige tile floors, glossy bare walls, and vast dead space. I plan on putting the kids to work making decorations.
The view out of my room is nice. There's a cute courtyard with palm trees, a garden, and a basketball court. The greenery and tall buildings in the distance create a modern, tropical feel. I can see the world's tallest building, the Taipei 101 out my window, too, which heightens the whole effect. I didn't get a very good picture of it on Tuesday. The 101 was obscured by haze and pollution when I took the picture above. You can barely make out its outline between the first and second buildings from the right in the foreground. I'll wait for a sunny day and take a better picture.