Last Saturday, Patrick, a teacher at a middle school in Táizhōng visited my school. He has some influence on his school’s curriculum and wanted to investigate a hardcore bŭxíbān to see if there was anything we do that he could adapt for use at his school. I was both impressed and amazed that a teacher would come all the way from Táizhōng to visit Guīshān on his own time. He’s obviously much more dedicated than any of the other English teachers I’ve known who work at Taiwanese schools. It must have been at least a three hour bus ride each way, and I can only hope that what he saw gave him some teaching ideas worthwhile enough to justify such a trip.
From what he said, it sounds like Patrick really has his work cut out for him. Unlike the other classes at his school, the English classes taught by foreign teachers don’t really “count”. Talk about a way to ruin the kids’ motivation. On top of that, the foreign teachers at his school aren’t really allowed to speak Chinese in class. I’m sure that slows down the progress of the kids at the lower levels quite a bit; I’ve been at that kind of school before. Still, he said that the students at his school have 18 hours per week of English language classes if P.E. and drama are included. That’s a whole heck of a lot of input. If they can just make sure that it’s comprehensible and get all of the kids paying attention and interested in class, they should be able to get some pretty phenomenal results. Considering that my school’s bŭxíbān classes are only 4 hours a week, I really doubted that much of our curriculum would be of any use to him. From what he said though, they do have some pretty confused kids at the lower levels who fail to get what they should out of all of those hours of English classes.
While I can’t say for sure what will be useful and what won’t, I hope he gets something out of it to justify the long trip. It was sure a nice thing for me that he came up to visit. It’s always nice to meet interesting people, and people who care about their work. Another thing that I’m really happy about is that he was able to film some of one of my classes on his super-uber-duper cell phone. The resolution and overall quality are far better than that of the DVDs with the cameras built into our classrooms. Once I get a copy from him, I can convert it to an FLV file and stream it from this site. Then, all of my family and friends back home can finally see what it is I’ve been doing out here in Taiwan these past few years.