Tag Archives: lazy students

The end

The complete full stop.
This has been one of those weeks when on those occasions I’ve had leisure time, I’ve felt disinclined to do anything that might require my brain to make some effort, hence no updates for the past few days. Quite a lot of this week has been taken up by preparations for the final exams; in fact, more time than I was expecting.
I had my last actual class two days ago when most of Class 5 (my original half; Glen and I swapped back) did some work. Yesterday when I saw them formally for the very last time, I decided it was a good occasion for a media studies lesson. I was less impressed when Class 5 indicated that they didn’t want to see more of Arrested Development because, instead, they wanted to watch the end of Shrek II, another of that great collection of sequels that should never have been made.
And today was the final exam itself. I ended up watching over my half of Class 6. Like the exam at this time last year, the day was horribly humid. As I should’ve known, the usual idiots violated exam protocol, but they’ll probably get such bad marks that it’s not worth giving them zero. That would be an improvement. There was also the kid who rushed through the reading exam in about 25 minutes flat. This is an IELTS reading exam, which takes me, a native speaker, 40 minutes to complete and get 98% – 100%.
But that, I think, is a symptom of the deeply flawed education system which, unwittingly, encourages pupils to do absolutely as little as possible to an absolutely minimal standard. The clown in question thought he’d then be allowed to leave the room, but you don’t get to do that in an IELTS exam and I didn’t let him on this occasion.
So I’ll never see these smug, arrogant little bastards again, except in passing next week perhaps. Hopefully, I’ll never see them again.
Thus this week marks the end of seven years of working for the programme and the same thing year in, year out – obnoxious spoilt brats who lack the wit to appreciate the knowledge you’re trying to impart to them. The era comes to an end but it engendered no particular emotional response in me except that anxiety you feel when the end is nigh and you wish it’d arrive a little sooner. But things should be different next term because I’ll be teaching obnoxious little brats who are going abroad and who don’t have us as the extra class they don’t want.

It’s not all bad

But it’s not all good either.
Having dealt with some other business first, I went to school to make a note of the marks from this term and last term so that I could judge overall what progress had been made. It generally doesn’t make for good reading, but at least Class 6 have achieved something.
Class Improved Worsened Unchanged
5 13 (.5 7; 1 6) 2 10
6 20 (.5 16; 1 4) 4
7 2 (.5 2) 9 8
Totals: 35 11 22
(In the Improved column, .5 means a half-band improvement; 1 means a whole band improvement or greater.)
The unchanged column may hide some improvements, but I note that a lot of the names are of kids who do bugger all in lessons. The results for Class 6 are pleasing even although I find some of them to be ill-mannered louts. Class 7’s results should come as no surprise. The ones who have got worse and most of those who remain unchanged form a roll call of the laziest kids in the class. What’s frustrating is that quite a few of them seem better at English than they’re leading me to believe, but it’s not until they sit an exam that it’s possible to see it.
I wish that I could say the ones who’ve improved have done so because of me, but the improvement may not be that much (half an IELTS band; that accounts for most of Class 6) and probably comes from their Chinese English classes, especially if they don’t do anything in my class.
Another glorious day in the annals of EFL teaching.

Ironic connections

Students and weather.
Back to the chalk face today. And in bloody typical fashion, the weather’s been absolutely brilliant. Clear blue skies with barely a cloud to be seen. Couldn’t have happened in August, could it? And in bloody typical fashion, most of the students had misplaced their books or left them at home or <insert dumb excuse here>. I had to resort to a speaking exercise I had planned for this afternoon’s conversation class.
With them (this afternoon’s conversation class, that is) I did introductions, but as you can imagine in a class of about fifty or so, not everyone’s going to get a turn. I don’t actually mind if some of them would rather do homework. In fact, that might be all they have to do most of the time for the aforementioned reason. Pity. I’ll get them doing some role playing in due course. Or show them DVDs.

When the glass is too full

Extreme surface tension.

I might tolerate this humiliating job a little more; I might despise my students for their intellectual deficiencies a little less if I got any sense that they were making any effort to learn in our classes or that they appreciated what we’re trying to do. In spite of claims a few years back that the students who were in our classes showed (comparatively speaking) a greater improvement in English than those who attended our schools because of academic merit (and, therefore, only learnt English within the Chinese education system), I don’t doubt that for six years, the marks that our students have got in the final exams have had almost nothing to do with attendance in our classes.

At a rough estimate, the parents of the kids I’ve taught have spent the better part of ¥5 million (c. £368,400) in total for their little brats to attend these classes since I’ve been China, and that’s just counting my halves of them. “Have the parents spent their money wisely?” No. “Would they have achieved just as much burning their money or flushing it down the loo or simply throwing it out of a window at random intervals?” Yes. Yup, after six years of teaching English in China I can <span class = “übersarcasm”>proudly</span> say that very, very few children I’ve taught in our programme have ever put in the effort that would justify their parents’ expenditure.

Class 5 were the big dollop of shit icing today’s enormous turd that passed as an attempt to impart knowledge to these 行尸走肉. Time to start sharpening some barbs for the report books.

It’s small wonder that every time a holiday passes, I regret its disappearance into history because I know what awaits me on the other side. We have classes for another five days before next week’s exams which, unofficially, mark the end of my sixth glorious year teaching English in China. Let’s hope the driver of Time’s wingèd chariot goes Warp Factor 9 on his conveyance.

Imperial Dreams

British Perfect Life.


As I was passing through the wo­men’s clothing section of Carrefour earlier this evening, I spotted this particular item of apparel. The statement is grammatical (although I feel there’s something a little off about “British perfect” instead of “Perfect British” unless “British” is qualifying “perfect life”), but somewhat nonsensical in a Chinese setting. Anyway, Rule Britannia. 

Meanwhile, staff at Carrefour are now checking inside boxes containing toothpaste because people are, it seems, trying to smuggle toothbrushes out in them. If they’re opening boxes which are obviously haven’t been tampered with, then the toothbrush thieves must be well equipped, being able to unseal and then reseal the boxes without leaving any trace of tampering. Cost of equipment to achieve this, ¥2,700. Time: 37 minutes. Cost of new toothbrush, ¥5. Time to purchase: 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile in education news, our classes have become somewhat sluggish now that the weather’s warmed up. What little brain function most of them have has dwindled, and it seems that being late to class may well be the rule rather than the exception for the rest of the term. Half of Class 5 was missing this afternoon. Most of them were allegedly rehearsing for some concert, which is obviously more important than our classes. 绿子曰: Dude, wake up and smell the coffee. The concert is more important than your classes. Sad to say, Master Lü is probably right. Classes 6 and 16 weren’t quite as bad in terms of attendance, but they’d already set the pattern for punctuality.

Ite, missa est

Deo gratias.

Today sees the end of teaching our usual classes. We now have exams to look forward to, followed by a little time off for the college entrance exam, followed by IELTS classes for the Senior 3s (to which I’ve already predicted a dismal end) for the rest of June.

So, how did things go? Did the little dears show you some glimmer of the respect they’re been lacking for you all term?

Class 14 was a bit of a fiasco because I couldn’t find the tape I needed. It was meant to be a listening class and forgot that the tapes for Book 3 are in a brown box and those for Book 4 in a blue box. I couldn’t work out why the text I wanted was missing. In the end, I got them to give me some general details about some pictures and then write a paragraph about them. It worked well enough in the end, but wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

They also wanted me to change the time of the speaking exam because, it seems, school may be over at lunchtime on Tuesday because of the college entrance exam. I explained to them that it wasn’t within my power to change the time and that they’d have to go and speak to Tracy about it. They didn’t want to do that.  

And what of Class 13?

Pray mention that troupe of cretinous clowns not. It started badly, continued badly, and after that there was a general decline. First, a bunch of kids who were meant to be in Todd’s and Jane’s classes malingered; then a bunch of other idiots wandered into class obviously after they’d been shooed off the basketball courts. During the whole class only two pupils paid any attention whatsoever. We’re thinking about showing them Chicken Run tomorrow. They behave like six-year-olds (actually, they do; this isn’t an instance of my more usual hyperbole); they’ll get to watch a movie for six-year-olds. I’m wondering which would be worse. No subs, or subs in English. Actually, no subs and frequent interruptions to explain points of English usage.

Will you really do that?

Probably not. They’re just not worth the effort.

How do you think the exams will go?

Overall, I suspect that the results will remain much the same. Class 14 might show some small improvement, but Class 13 could well go backwards. It’ll be “Overall, no change” at best for them.

So, after another year of teaching ninnies and numbskulls, my humiliation is now in therapy.

Although the behaviour of Chinese school children is pretty uniform, I’m hoping that the academic quality of the pupils in Chengdu will be a significant improvement on what I’ve had here. My experience at the school in Jiangsu Province last year showed how important the regime at the school is. The kids hated the headmaster, who was, they thought, more like a prison governor, but they were better disciplined (and academically way better besides). Here, the school’s made it’s money out of the parents of the intellectually deficient and doesn’t much care beyond that.

I’m reminded of the time I watched the pupils doing the morning exercises early-ish in the first term. They flopped around like a bunch of boneless whales on a beach. In Jiangsu Province, some of the kids got out of sync, but they never flopped lazily. So watch the pupils do their morning exercises. It seems to be a good means of gauging the character of the school itself.

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.