Well, I just did the 說明會 for my new class on Friday. It will be my fourth class, but since two of my classes are 90 minutes a day M-F, it will put me at full time. It also means that as of tomorrow, my class-load will be considered “full-time”. That has a small down-side and a couple of upsides. The down side is that I will no longer get paid during my non-teaching hours. As a result, I’m taking a $6600台幣/week pay cut. The good side is that I don’t have to come in during those hours (though I obviously still have to grade books, calculate class rankings, write exams, make curriculum, etc…). Calculations for my bonus will start from now, too. I still won’t get one for another year, though, and the first two will be small.

I should also get all my back-pay for training, test proctoring and so forth. That back-pay has been building up for nine months, now. My school holds back $200 out of the $700/hr of training pay until a teacher opens his or her second class. Theoretically, I should have already gotten it, and I’m starting to get pissed-off about it. When my second class opened and I asked about it, my boss said that “though I was teaching and being paid, the class wasn’t open, yet”. I guess that’s because the school has some system where the parents can take the first 8 classes for free, and then those that want to continue pay. It’s just happened that all but one of my students who have tried my class have paid and continued, so I never really noticed some cut-off day.

I’ve also got my very first class’s 1st semester final exam coming up. I’m really pleased with their progress. My boss opened another class a month before mine opened and my class passed his last week! They started from nothing, and now most of the kids can spell out words they’ve never heard before that include short and long vowels (including “oo”), “-ou-/-ow-“, “-ow” (i.e. crow), “-er/-ir-/-ur-“, “-ar-“, “-or-“, “-are/-air-“, “-eer-/-ear-“, “-ire-“, “-ure”, “-ph-“, “-ce-“, “th”, “ch”, “-y/-ey”, “-ay”, and “-oy”. They also have a good idea of when to use one “l” as opposed to two, when to use one “s” instead of two, when to use “ck” instead of just “k” and when to use “-tch” instead of just “-ch”. Obviously they can’t spell words with exceptions, words that use spelling rules, such as “-cious”, that they haven’t learned yet, and they can’t tell if a long a should be spelled as “a_e”, or as “ai”. But they can give me reasonable phonetic spellings of most of the words I use in their spelling drills. Their pronunciation is improving rapidly. One student, “Little Tina”, who couldn’t pronounce an “r” to save her life a couple of months ago has suddenly made huge improvements over the last month. The class in general is getting a lot better at the short i vs long e problem that plagues 99% of all Chinese people I’ve met. They’ve gone from nothing, to being able to use Can/Did/Will + verb sentences with about 25 verbs, including some transitive verbs, and Is/Am/Are + noun/adjective sentences with about an equal number of nouns and adjectives.

If they continue like this, they’ll likely be able to get into the Bookworms graded readers, like Pocahontas within another 12-14 months. As part of my preparation for my new class to be opened tomorrow, I watched the video of my first class’s first day. Large numbers of them didn’t know what “good” or “sit down” meant. Seeing them like that really reminded me of how quickly they’re coming along. That’s awesome. It really, really sucks living in 龜山, but work is going alright.