Friday, September 7, 2012

One Week Down

I’m really excited that I have my writing students for a full year; it’s nice to have time to go more in depth.  With the material that we were given, this semester will focus on the mechanics of writing, and next semester on writing essays and papers.  Here’s a general overview of the plan for this semester:


Week 1: Introduction to Writing, Course Syllabus, Personal Introductions
Week 2: The Writing Process
Week 3: Review of Punctuation and Capitalization Rules
Week 4: Diction (Word Choice)
Week 5: Combining Sentences (Compound, Complex, and Compound-Complex Sentences)
Week 6: Sentence Variety
Week 7: Effective Paragraphs
Week 8: Development of a Paragraph by Time
Week 9: Development of a Paragraph by Process
Week 10: Development of a Paragraph by Space
Week 11: Development of a Paragraph by Exemplification
Week 12: Development of a Paragraph by Generalization
Week 13: Development of a Paragraph by Comparison and Contrast
Week 14: Development of a Paragraph by Cause and Effect
Week 15: Development of a Paragraph by Classification
Week 16: Development of a Paragraph by Definition
Week 17: Final Exam 

So, this week, I did the first two weeks’ lessons. The first time I saw each class (Monday and Wednesday), I first introduced myself—the students generally personally know very few foreigners, and so they find it interesting to hear about the life of an American.  I made a power point with some pictures of my family, my parents’ house in Tennessee, scenery from Tennessee and Columbia specifically, and of things Tennessee is known for (music, mostly—although actually, whenever I’ve mentioned I’m from Tennessee when traveling in several countries, the first thing people always think of is…Jack Daniels.  However, I decided not to use whiskey as a claim to fame for my students).  I told a bit of my history—where I went to college, that I was an English major like them, my time in Italy, that I had lived in Jingzhou for a year—and also some of my interests: I like photography, genealogy, I’m a Christian, etc. I opened it up for questions afterward—told them it was their chance to be nosy (not that they always need one).  My first class, 1106, asked plenty of good questions, but my other two were shy and didn’t come up with anything.  

Next, I had each student stand up and introduce themselves to me—my students in Jingzhou (I know, I feel like I’m constantly comparing Jingzhou vs. Wuhan, but that’s my only frame of reference right now) barely squawked out their names, hometown, and struggled to come up with an interest: “My name is Echo…I’m from Enshi, in Hubei province…I like…badminton…and reading.”  These students, on the other hand, weren’t shy at all.  I almost had to cut a few short , even—each and every one of them spoke for at least two minutes; not only a list of their hobbies, but why they like and what they don’t like and what their friends think about it.  I do think it would be fun to teach spoken English sometimes—but I am firmly entrenched as a writing teacher.  

After our personal introductions, I gave an intro to the course, going over the syllabus and talking about written English as opposed to spoken English as a form of communication.  Finally, I had a bit of fun with the students—to help both me learn their English names as well as them learn each others’, we played the name game.  The first person says, “Hi, I am Helen.”  The second says, “I am Jane, and this is Helen.”  The third says, “I am Lily, and this is Jane and Helen.”  And so on, until the last people have to give everyone’s name.  I usually start at the back and work towards the front, because the best students usually claim the front row to vie for attention as teacher’s pet, so I figured they could use the challenge.  Finally, I rattled them all off—they always seem to be impressed that I do this without much effort—but I’ve been paying attention as we go through it over and over, and besides, it’s easier for me as the names are at least familiar name (or words) to me. 

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