Keeps Making Progress in our Teaching

Team Journal for March 20, 2015

Message of the day:

“If you have to make notes on how a thing struck you, it probably hasn’t struck you.”– Henry Adams, quoted by Wallace Stegner.

Let's work on the difficult sounds "th", "v", "l"...

Let’s work on the difficult sounds “th”, “v”, “l”…

Today the team was back with a full complement of members – Montana joined us feeling much better, but a little cautious after two days spent mostly in bed. With her assistance, LuRue felt they were getting their presentation into a successful pattern.

Don still is in a bit of a whirl with the third Tourism class. He is trying to work in an exercise of giving directions to a tourist spot as well as a Bingo Game based upon pronunciation. It was a struggle, with the students having some homework for their next class on Wednesday.

At lunch, Baoli had suggestions from the teachers who sat in on the classes. “Speak slower” – don’t get carried away with your enthusiasm. “Speak louder” – if the students don’t hear you, they can’t benefit from the experience.

Baoli had some helpful additional observations. First, have the words which you are focusing on written out on the board or a sheet and point to them so the students make the connection between sound and the sight of the word or picture of the word (e.g., chair, lamp, etc.).

Second, in playing “Simon says”, consider having several students demonstrate how to respond to the oral commands – and what happens when they make a movement which “Simon” has not said! Third, in drilling the Pronunciation exercise, be sure to point to the word on the table so the students can make the oral – visual connection. And fourth, for map direction or other games, be sure the students are familiarized with the phrases that will be used – ideally simplified as much as possible and written out on the board/chart as well as demonstrated. There is no learning if they are sitting, bewildered by oral instructions they don’t understand, even if the teachers aid in giving translated summaries. All were appreciative of the feedback and will be incorporated as appropriate. While the first week seemed analogous to trying to drink from a firehose, the weekend and reflection has helped get some order in our approaches.

The 1000-year-old Big Wild Goose Pagoda at night

The 1000-year-old Big Wild Goose Pagoda at night

Friday night after dinner, we were met by teachers Alice (and her son Leo) and Yolanda for a treat – an excursion to the Wild Goose Pagoda water fountain show. The drive to the park took us by some of the current subway construction and down a major commercial district to the southeast of the city. We were treated to Hawthorne apples and strawberries with sugar glazing – really delicious. Then the teachers insisted that we three volunteers wear colorful head bans with blinking lights – probably a very good safety precaution should any of us wander off! The fountains in the park are said to be the largest fountain site in Asia! The park had a very comfortable size crowd with the entire perimeter filled three or four people deep. In the summer, with many, many visitors to Xi’an, all the space is filled with people, enjoying the show and the cooling water spray.

A tour of Xi'an at night with the school teachers

A tour of Xi’an at night with the school teachers

The water show was accompanied by a wide range of classical Chinese and Western music. Each section of the fountain had rows of water jets choreograph to the music. The show started at 8:30 and (I think) ended after nine. It was the sort of program which young and old can enjoy and think of times they wish they had such a venue close at hand while they were growing up. After the program we wandered by the life size statuary of athletes and musicians and other performers, past many stalls of souvenirs and food and drink. We had several sticks of cotton candy to top off the performance. Our ride back to the hotel went straight up main commercial street of the district – lined with new, fine shops. The evening was a great success.


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