“My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel-it is, before all, to make you see!” – Joeseph Conrad, quoted by Thomas C. Moser in his introduction to Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier.
The rain of yesterday continued. We were met by Mrs. Shi (Theresa), the deputy director of the general (core) program of English, Mathematics and other required courses. On the ride to the school she told us of her new apartment and her need to plan its furnishing. She also mentioned a long trip (almost four hours by car) to visit her parents who have been retired for ten years and will have a place in her apartment when ready.
At the College we found the regular library door still closed, due to a local power outage. We skirted the entrance to get into the library through the adjacent classroom building. Both our sections were students taking a Civil Engineering Test (preparation) course. Montana and LuRue found the students at a lower English level than previous classes. The teachers who accompanied the students were less experienced in assisting ESL work. Montana and LuRue included in their classes the drawing game with a variation (of rooms above one another) which they felt did not work well. However, competition in a game of completing sentences based on homonyms was successful.
Don had one section of the Civil Engineering group and then his third session with the Hotel Management group. The Civil Engineering group had surprising career objectives – not only engineering, but medicine, law, singing, acting, dancing and several others were mentioned! But like LuRue and Montana’s class, their English proficiency was lower. There were exceptions. Two boys who demonstrated “Simon Says” moves to the group could be among the strongest of any group. The Hotel Management class’s homework assignment from Thursday was to prepare directions to a tourist site from the Le Garden Hotel. Mrs. Shi was helpful in pushing individuals to adopt the simple format (left, right, straight ahead, etc.) and the sophistication of the performances improved as we went on (e.g., taking buses, alternative routes, etc.). Still most were handicapped in working with the small map (to be complemented with a chart in Wednesday’s Tourism class). The most successful activity of the day was team “fly swatter” competition identifying oral renditions of pronunciation examples taken from the earlier presentation of LuRue. With one card per word taped on the white board, each (of four) team representatives lined up two steps from the board with swatters ready. Hearing the word, the first swatter (i.e., the one on the board over the card) scored a point for her or his team. Everyone got a chance to compete. The winning team (i.e., the team with most “first” identifications) won. There were two girls’ teams and two boys’. The two girls’ teams came in first and second!
At 2:30 we met with some of the hotel staff to help on their English skills. LuRue and Montana worked with the restaurant staff on descriptions of menu offering to be understandable by English speakers, particularly the numerous types of dumplings. Don talked with front desk personnel about the list of terms they had assembled, providing more used (by Americans) terminology for many (e.g, wash cloth for face towel, electric outlet for power socket, etc.). It was enjoyable to be of help.