Speak the speech, I pray you

But, damn it! in your own words.

For the first three weeks of this term, we have a speech class once a week. This is in aid of the CCTV 9 English speaking contest. I quite enjoyed it last week; less so this. Last week, at the end of the class, several of the pupils asked if they could speak on subjects slightly different from those that’d been proposed. I agreed because the subjects were broader than a colossal squid’s arse. However, I was less pleased this week because it was clear that most of the class were not using original material.

One girl started her speech by talking to her book, so I went to pull the book down and explain that she should speak to the audience. It was by doing that that I discovered she was using her exercise book to hide the book from which she was reading. Even if I hadn’t been aware of this ruse, the use of English written by native speakers is painfully obvious when, because I am presently inclined to such constructions myself, I hear utterances such as “…when, because etc.” which I have yet to see produced consciously by any Chinese school child. I asked her afterwards if she understood the words “originate” and “indispensable” which I knew, of course, she didn’t.

The one boy in the class won some plaudits from me because he followed the plan I suggested last week. His reading was not especially fluent, with long pauses in various places, but he produced a much better speech than the girls.

I also felt what I realised, which was that we just don’t have the time to do anything with this class. At best, we can listen to their speeches and comment, hoping that our suggestions aren’t flying off into the oblivion of recent history.

I gave them homework, although there isn’t much point because next week will be our last time with them.


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