Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cat Ba Update

I have been a bit lax with updating this blog. I don't always have the Internet right in front of my face here!

Since my last update, we have been settling into our jobs and lives here. Matt has started guiding and working in the office for Slopony and I started both of my teaching gigs last week. Teaching here is incredibly different than in Korea. Here I'm totally on my own, which is both a relief and a challenge.

I started teaching my classes at the National Park last week. I went on Monday afternoon for a meeting to organize the group of 34 students into three classes. However, it seems there was some sort of party celebrating rangers visiting from another National Park. About half of my students were too drunk to show up! We organized the classes anyway, but now they are being reorganized because apparently drunk organizers don't organize classes well!

The National Park classes got off to a rocky start last week. Most of them have a very low English level. I have been telling them that we don't need a translator, but one of my classes went and retrieved one during the break. There seems to be several sets of expectations about what will be happening with English lessons at the National Park, which is difficult to balance. Our main goal is to improve their pronunciation so we are using simple vocabulary. Many already know these words, so they think it is not helpful and they are bored. I'm trying to get them to understand that if no one can understand you, it doesn't matter how many words you know! This coming week should be better as the classes are being rearranged by level. I go there three afternoons a week and meet each group for about 2.5 hours.

My other English teaching post here is to work with the Vietnamese staff of Slopony. They are the wife of one of the owners and two of her younger brothers who help belay and guide on trips. I'm also supposed to teach the son of the farmer who owns the cliff with most of the climbing on the island. He didn't come to the first lesson because he was sick, but I think he's worred he can't afford the lessons. I need to tell him that I don't really want any money from him. He's a sweet, smart kid from a poor farming family and I really couldn't take any money from him. He leads trekking trips for SloPony sometimes. They are all really nice and sweet. Two of the boys are about 20 and the younger brother is about 18. We have lessons three times a week also, but I see them all the time so I'm trying to verbally quiz them everytime I see them. If they can speak English, at least conversationally, they will have much better opportunities living on a tourist island. I think I 'll see a lot more improvement with this group.

In other news, I learned to drive the motorbike this week! It was the first step on my list of things to become badass. I can now drive myself all over the island. Also, I have somehow managed to catch a sneezy, snotty, sore throat cold in tropical conditions! I haven't been taking many pictures, but I'll pick up the slack on that too.


MelissaR said...

Some pronunciation things I used with my students were:
-Similar sentences and have the student pairs try to tell them apart. The specifics depend on Nationality. French had trouble with "I hate this pen" vs "I had this Pin". Japanese had trouble with the difference between "lover" and "rubber" (very funny).Practice 'Is your lover rubber?''He's a rubber lover'
-word bingo (rotate the announcer)
-Learn and sing English songs(slower ones with the words draaawn out are best).
-Talk to each other with your eyes closed (makes you concentrate)

LISA said...

Sounds difficult Smash... but I know your more than up for the challenge!!! Your such a Vietnam badass! Miss you xo

HPB said...

hey guess what i can now clean, oil, load, and fire with DEADLY ACCURACY (AND TOTAL SAFETY OBVIOUSLY) a nine mm semi automatic pistol. so i guess that means you drive, i shoot. as always.

Kathleen said...

you should update your mailing address info!