Well, there have been a few changes since I last updated my Blog.
In the last few weeks, my classes at Green Seasons Biotech, American Pacific Lines Shipping and NuSkin Cosmetics all finished. (You can see the NuSkin pictures below.) As a result of that, my number of hours per week of teaching dropped like a rock, especially considering that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of companies calling us at the moment. (Just a lull I guess…)
So, I accepted teaching jobs at local KoJen cram schools to fill the income gap. As long as they’re adults and (at least) teens, I don’t care too much, I just didn’t want to teach young children again.
As a result of this, I acquired 3 new classes, one of which will start this upcoming Saturday.
The first class I took on is at a branch school nearer to my home than most. Located at the NeiHu Branch of KoJen, it’s a conversation class for advanced teens and adults who want to improve their already considerable skill with English. Twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday nights, I teach for 3 hours at a time. Of course, I’m actually at the school for 5 1/2 hours at a time because I show up 1 1/2 hours early for each session so the head teacher Ainsley can prep me and tell me the lesson plan. He’s a very skilled teacher, and has the whole thing down to a science, so I don’t mind teaching from his lesson plans as I’m learning new techniques for working with more advanced conversation students.
The NeiHu branch (NeiHu is the name of the suburb of Taipei where I happen to live, but my home office is in another district) of KoJen is actually a pretty darn nice place. The building is new, the people are friendly and good natured (they gave me quite the welcome when I first showed up, even though I’m only a part-timer there) and miracle of miracles, I’m not the only Londoner there!
The first thing that happened when I told people I was from London (Canada) was they told me their resident wiseguy Tim was also from London. Quite surprised and happy, I wandered over to introduce myself and told me how happy I was to meet another Londoner here. He gave me a bemused smile and told me that in fact in his experience, there are as many Londoners running around Taipei as there are people from Toronto. I guess since I don’t spend much time in the foreign teacher circles I was unaware that London ships out quite a few of it’s educated youth to become ESL teachers here in Taiwan. He’s still the only one I’ve met, but now I won’t be so surprised if I run into more. (I wonder if I’ll meet anyone I know? Will wonders never cease?)
My other new class is at my home branch school in Gong-Guan district, and it’s a writing class for intermediate level students who want to improve their writing skills. For that class I’m coached by Nigel, my school’s head teacher, although he’s much less hands-on than Ainsely, giving me the handouts and the written plan with just a quick “here’s what you should do” rather than Ainsely’s highly detailed plans. Of course, the writing class is also much less complicated, since the focus is giving them sentence patterns based on certain ideas and having them run through them. They spend most of the class sitting at the desks writing, although I like to slip in as much conversation activities as I can to balance things out. (Often ones borrowed from my NeiHu classes.)
Of note about that class are two young women, although not in the way you might expect. Both of them are quite unique, one (Anny)is extremely short (about 130cm would be my guess) and the other (Ivanna) extremely tall 187cm (I’m 183, for comparison). Both of them are really nice women, but Anny is quieter than a churchmouse (and cute as one too, being 16) and Ivanna is indeed larger than life. Funny how their heights reflect their personalities in a lot of ways. I actually took Ivanna aside and asked her how she felt being so tall in Taiwan, where most people are about 155cm tall. She said when she was growing up (she’s in her 20′s) it used to bother her a lot, but after she spent a year studying English at a University in the United States, she came to realize it wasn’t so bad to be tall. Attagirl! I still feel a little bad for her, though, as the other students gawk at her a bit, but hopefully they will stop soon.