Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19th: Second Week of Classes...with Leprechauns

 The second week, I began class by introducing them to a holiday from the English-speaking world that they had never heard of: St. Patrick's Day!

I told them the story of Patrick and how he was taken as a slave to Ireland, and then later returned there as a missionary, becoming an important figure in Irish history in the process.  I explained how now, at least in the U.S., it seems to be more a celebration of Ireland in general, and we do many silly things to celebrate: There are parades in Dublin, New York, Seattle, and many other cities; Chicago dumps dye in the river to turn it crayon green for the occasion (see the picture below--I've never been there, but it would be a sight to see!); schoolchildren are careful to dress in green in peril of getting pinched.  I told them about leprechauns, rainbows, and the luck of the Irish.  I also told them about the shamrocks you see everywhere on Irish stuff, and how, according to legend, Patrick used the three-leafed shape of the plant to explain the trinity--that in Christianity, we understand God in three ways: the creator Father, the son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, the part of God that lives in us.  Three parts, but one leaf. I also told them about the time that Mom decided to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by putting green food coloring in our supper. Green macaroni and cheese, green corn bread, green tea, and green potato something, I remember... Dad and Hayden wouldn't eat it; it was too off-putting to eat green cheese.  However, if you don't look at it, it tastes the same--so, I managed alright.

Their journal assignment was to write a similar description of a Chinese holiday they enjoy--what does the day celebrate? A historical event, a famous person, a part of the year like harvest or the coming of spring?  What do you do to celebrate--is there a feast, special songs, particular colors, parades, presents?  Do you have any special memories of this celebration?  I'll let you know about some Chinese holidays when I take up the journals again in a couple of weeks.

In the second half of the classtime, I did a lesson on the differences between informal (e-mails, writing for entertainment, correspondance with family and friends, etc.) and formal (academic papers, essays, business correspondence) writing.  For example, in formal writing, we would write out the number 'six' in words instead of 6.  Also, we wouldn't use abbreviations or contractions: TV becomes television, don't becomes do not. We wouldn't use slang, we wouldn't use "I" and "We" but instead make it impersonal, we wouldn't begin sentences with "well", "but", or "and".  That last point is especially important for them; nearly everyone began sentences with "but" on the first journal assignment.

So far, my classes are going just fine; the students write well enough in English that we can do some interesting projects, but yet still  have enough room for improvement that there's still plenty I can teach them.  I'm beginning to see my students around campus and around town, too.  I was walking to Tabby and casey's the other day for a get-together--last Sunday, I believe--and heard someone calling my name as I turned the corner towards their apartment.  Two of my students were going, too, and in fact, have been hanging out with that crowd for some time now.  Also, I was sitting in my favorite little restaurant, across the street from the campus, the other night.  I had just ordered my food, when a student from my Friday afternoon class sitting at a table nearby recognized me and invited me to come sit with her and her friends at their table.  In a town like Jingzhou, you don't see foreigners everyday, so my students have been very friendly and I appreciate their welcome. 


Anonymous said...

Keep up the great work, Katy-my love.
I know that you are doing an awesome job.

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