Mr Bamboo proposes

The Dowager Empress disposes.

诚惶诚恐… When it comes to proposing schedules for exams, I know that I’m wasting my time. Whatever proposal I devise, I know that it’s not going to survive; and that’s exactly what happened today. Linda phoned me this morning to say that we weren’t going to have a meeting with the Dowager Empress; but after I got to school and had been planning the timetable for the IELTS exam, I got another phone call and was informed she now wanted a meeting on that very subject.

I assumed that we’d do our exams in the second-to-last week of term. I was sort of right, but first the IELTS exam was pushed into the start of the week. I reminded the Dowager Empress about the FCE exams, which were then scheduled for the end of the preceding week. There was also the matter of the FCE speaking exams and when we’d be doing those because the IELTS speaking exams will finish at the end on the 13th (of June; I keep having to specify the month, which is dumb because there’s only one month when we’ll be doing the exams). Then the IELTS exam got pushed back again, this time to the 16th and 17th because it was concluded that the students wouldn’t put much effort into it with their school exams being nigh.[1]

In the end, it looks like we’re going to have to spend a Saturday doing the FCE speaking exams because that’s all the time we’ll have for them. If you know what conducting a speaking exam is like, you’ll know how painful doing these things for several hours can be. Your concentration soon wavers and like their writing, the students all start sounding the same. You try to focus on the assessment criteria, but can’t really judge the appropriate band score and decide to give them marks on the basis of how much the stupidity of their answers annoyed you.

The next three weeks are not going to be a bunch of fun.

Later. They could be a great deal less fun. I found this afternoon that the Dowager Empress had possibly changed things a little further by turning the whole process into exams with Chinese characteristics, viz. all IELTS and FCE exams (excluding speaking) in three days, which is exactly how Chinese exams are conducted. I would prefer to keep the two types of exam separate (it’s neat, tidy and focused) and to spread the boredom of invigilation over several days instead of three rather more intense days of dullness. The re-revised schedule isn’t set in stone yet, but apart from minor adjustments, I rather suspect we’re going to be stuck with it.

1. I predict that the more brainless and lazy specimens in Senior 2 will probably give up when they find out just how much they have to get through in each of the modules of the IELTS exam.

Advantage for examiners in the writing exam: there’s only one topic in each task (thus students can’t choose the dullest, most unimaginative topic offered). Disadvantage for examiners in the writing exam: there’s only one topic in each task (because students will write the same answer every time).

2 thoughts on “Mr Bamboo proposes”

  1. You can tell by the past odd blog John, that you’re down on your students, it’s nearing the end of the year and you sound like you’ve had enough. Think like this, get through the next 7 weeks and it’ll all be over and you can take a well deserved break, it doesn’t reflect on you if they have chosen to not engage, i’m sure you have encountered this time and time again before and will encounter it again in the future.

  2. True. I can’t wait for the term to come to an end. I have no problem with the kids who make a decent contribution in class, but I’ve had to put up with too many space-wasting vegetables over the past six years.
    As you suggest, it’ll be more of the same next year, only I won’t make the same mistake of allowing the classes to be streamed in the second term. They can all do general English with a little IELTS for good measure.

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