Ji, what were you thinking?

Last week my boss Ji took my class of Demon Children when I went out with Fresca. The Demon Children, and not the homesickness or lack of hot water, brought me closest to going back to the states. I am not qualified to teach nor am I particularly interested in teaching the under-12 crowd, but while my contract promises me work teaching my desired 13-18 range, it doesn’t actually forbid teaching a bizarre assortment of 4 to 11 years olds, whose English level bears no relation to their age. Tim knows all of his colors that start with R and end with ED. Rebecca wants to know if she can play with my daughter when I have one, or if she’ll be old enough to babysit.

Paul repeats everything I say with prefect pronunciation and almost no understanding. I have to say almost because after hearing each classroom instruction repeated back to me, with zero comprehension, I tried to get him to say “I am the very model of a modern major general” but he must have caught on somehow.

But Apple is probably the bane of my Chinese existence. Her hobbies are climbing on the desks, howling, and taking her clothes off. All three at once, if I’m not quick enough. I’ve asked to have her removed from the class, but her father has something to do with business licensing, and this is China. We usually make it through attendance before she attempts bodily harm on one of her classmates and I send her to the office to be someone else’s problem. I feel a little bad for the receptionist, but not bad enough to keep Apple in class.

When I explained to Ji that the little monsters were driving me insane, she told me how easy the small classes are, that I am not trying hard enough, and she offered to teach one lesson and let me observe. Let the record show that the student-inflicted bruises did NOT happen on my watch.

Since then, Ji and I have an armed truce. On occasion, she will ask me how we are progressing though the textbook or she’ll ask what the homework is. When that happens, I remind her of her verbal promise to hire a new teacher and her contractual obligation to provide a bilingual assistant. I make a vocab coloring sheet each week. I praise and encourage the kids who complete it, while I keep the others harmlessly shredding their handouts. If they remember the new words next week, great, but I’m content if they don’t color on their clothes or stick crayons up their noses. [Ok, so a small marker incident happened when I was meant to be teaching, but in my defense, destroying one’s outfit is fast and silent.]

Anyway, these are the monsters Ji got stuck with last week. The words she taught them were, and I quote:

cell phone
sweet potato

What? Where did she come up with those? Were they playing I, Spy on Waikiki?

I never laugh at girl students, no matter what they say. It makes them think I’m mocking their English and then they’ll never speak in class again. But in class today, after some surprisingly good behavior, Rebecca was elected class spokeswoman, and after a long nervous lead-in, and she told me they would be very, very good, and could I please not punish them again by sending Ji back again? I practically choked myself trying not to let a giggle out. It was so cute, I almost felt guilty for considering them demons sent from a hell-dimension to drive me insane.


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0 Responses to Ji, what were you thinking?

  1. jenn (donder) says:

    Meg, I’m *so* glad I added your blog to my “list of websites to check compulsively while I’m procrastinating.”

    “I Spy in Wakkiki” made me laugh so hard that people stuck their heads out of their rooms down the hall …

  2. Stuart says:

    Advice: Chinese schools are notorious about not fulfilling their end of contracts. Don’t let them get away with this. Also, don’t do anything extra (like teach more classes or an “english corner”) that’s not in the contract, without being paid more money. You tell them how much you want for extra work.

  3. Stick says:

    I thought the girl with no clothes on is Fresca. Who is Apple?

  4. time bandit says:

    sorry to hear about the rotten apple 🙂

  5. The Humanaught says:

    Hey Meg, long time (like two weeks) listener, first time caller here. [sorry, always wanted to use that, and when I try it on Chinese radio they just get confused and hang up].

    Great blog. I am one of your faithful 9 subscribers with Bloglines as Blogger blogs are banned in China. Can you access your own blog?

    As for the kids. I teach about 35-45 kids per class (six classes a day) all aged 7 to 10. When I was in a language school I sometimes dreaded it as you get a lot of very spoiled kids (the Apple likely doesn’t fall far from the tree, eh?) but the kids at the primary school, though often distracted and naughty (as kids are), are great in that they’re just kids. No pretention or anything.. I dig that.

    Anyway just wanted to comment and let you know I dig your blog.

  6. Meg says:

    Humanaught… You’re Ryan In Dalian!!! I love your blog!

    John at Sinosplice clued me in to http://www.Anonymouse.org for veiwing blogspot sites in China. It’s very helpful.

    What is bloglines?

  7. jEFF says:

    Who is Ji?

  8. The Humanaught says:

    @Meg: Haha. Thanks! Comment damnit. 🙂

    Bloglines (bloglines.com) is a feed reader. It lets you put all the blogs you like to read in one handy place, and then it tells you (sorta, but not exactly, like an online e-mail program) when they have new posts.

    It makes reading a number of blogs much quicker – which is why I read your blog more than I respond – responding requires me to go all the way up to my toolbar in Firefox, turn on the Tor Proxy (it’s like anonymouse in principle) and then visit your site at the intense speed of sound (if all sound was as fast as my grandma after her hip surgery).

    I’ll check out Anonymouse and see if it’s faster.

  9. The Humanaught says:

    Ok, checked. It’s a little faster I think. Not as convenient though. I’m going to see if anyone has invented a little Firefox addon for it. I love opensource software. (and now I sound far too bu ku).

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