Saturday, February 25, 2006

This morning I went to Tiantong Temple with one of the Chinese teachers and her husband. It was pouring down with rain so the photos aren't so good and the visibility was pretty low but it looks like a really nice place to visit when it's sunny.
Tomorrow I have to fly to Hong Kong in order to get my visa sorted out. I'm looking forward to it- I'm treating it like a holiday, really, and it should be a lot warmer than here. Also looking forward to a curry in Chungking Mansions and just generally seeing how the place has changed. Hopefully will have my visa sorted out in a couple of days and then I'll head back. Tiantong Temple

Thursday, February 23, 2006

After I last wrote I got a phonecall inviting me into town to go for a meal with some other teachers who work in Ningbo. Had some nice food and some beers at the Shamrock before heading back for a few rounds of poker with the teachers here. I think I lost about 10p but I'm a bit hazy on that.
Sunday I decided to head back into Ningbo centre and have a walk around to orientate myself. It was raining but it was nice to stretch my legs. The only problem was when I went to get a taxi there were none around. I found one eventually though. Had a quiet night in.
Teaching this week has been interesting. One of the Primary school teachers has asked for some help teaching music but as I have no talent for music and almost none for singing I could only give limited advice. On tuesday went for a medical checkup which I had to pay for! And it looks like I'm definitely going to have to go to Hong Kong to sort out my visa even though we've shown the bloke who is supposed to look after the foreign teacher several government websites that say you can do it inside China. O well, it's a holiday, I suppose, and at least it will be warm...
Other than that not a lot to say really. Watched some DVDs, they have Korean food in the canteen now which is pretty good (there are South Korean students here, apparently because they've been kicked out of schools in Korea and are from rich families), and explored another nearby market which has a stall with Tianjin-style pancakes. Mmmm.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

OK, it's been a pretty full week. Have been busy every evening so I haven't had a lot of time to write, and quite a few 7:40 starts so I've been pretty tired.
The teaching is fun but it gets pretty repetitve. I'm teaching first and second grade which is 7-9 year old kids. Most of my classes are of about 40 students but some are only twenty. I always have a teaching assistant in the class with me to help keep order and translate anything the children don't understand. Much of it, in classes that big, is about getting them to repeat stuff after me but it is fun trying to find ways to get them to actually think about the language and what they are trying to say. And I can use a little bit of Chinese which they think is amazing. Over the next couple of week's I'll probably try and bring more into the classroom as teaching aids but for now it's more about getting them used to me. I also need to find some good songs to teach them.
Have been out in town a couple of times but it's pretty expensive - like 30 RMB for a drink (about 2 pounds) which is crazy when it only costs 2 RMB to buy a bottle of beer in the shop. Met one of the teachers who is leaving and he sold me some speakers and a DVD player (both for less than twenty pounds!) so I'm feeling quite set up now. Last night I invited all the foreign teachers over to my apartment so we drank some beer and wine and chatted for a while. They seem pretty nice, generally quite thoughtful and they are enjoying it here.
Today I went with Nick, who is from South Africa, and his girlfriend into Ningbo for some food and so he could take me to a good DVD shop. So I now have a small pile of DVDs to watch along with the ones I brought out. At least I won't be stuck for something to do...
Also interesting - I read an interview with a Chinese science fiction writer and it had his email address so I've been in touch with him. He has given me some titles of books to look out for so I'll probably head down to the Xinhua bookstore soon and see if they have them.
It's been really cold this last couple of days. We even had a little bit of snow yesterday so I am probably just going to wrap up warm now and watch some tv.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Yesterday evening went out for a couple of drinks in Ningbo which was ok, although it being a Monday night it was pretty quiet. This morning I got a phonecall off one of the teachers I didn't meet yesterday inviting me over to have a chat about what to do and introduce herself. I also ended up watching the weekly raising the flag ceremony which is like assembly in the UK. After that I came back for lunch and to do some lesson preparation for the two classes I had this afternoon.
My first class was ok but not brilliant, but then it was my first one. The second went much better though and I enjoyed it. Both classes have about forty pupils and the classes are very much about learning by rote rather than encouraging the students to use the language for themselves but some of the kids are very bright and pick stuff up quickly. I guess it will take time to work out what I need to do to get the most benefit.
It's nice and sunny here at the moment so it has been pretty warm today. I think that it will start to warm up properly in the next few weeks.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Flew into Shanghai last Friday evening. The flight was reasonably comfortable as it wasn't too busy and had a tv in the back of the seat in front of me so it was easy to just keep watching. Didn't really sleep though so was very tired when I arrived. Got the bus into town and checked in to the hotel easily enough and just wandered around a bit getting my bearings again. On the Friday met Noah, one of the other English teachers, for lunch and we wandered down to the Bund and had a bit of a chat. He can speak Chinese too but being much younger is a lot keener... Went back to the veggie restaurant I went to last time and had a nice meal in the evening.

On the Saturday went to the train station to be collected by John Zhu who is the man responsible for hiring us and looking after us while we are here. He seems pleasant enough although probably a little ineffectual at times. Also met Steven from Australia, he has been here for about 3 years teaching in other places.

My apartment is quite nice but a little grubby so I need to spend some time cleaning it up. Today I met some of the Chinese teachers I am going to be working with. They seem nice but their schedules are a lot longer than ours. I have twenty lessons a week with classes mostly of 40 kids about 7-8 years old but I will be helped by their Chinese teacher, at least at first. I start teaching tomorrow afternoon so until then I need to get cleaning and think about my lesson plans...

Will also try and get some photos uploaded.