My only Grade 5 class is full of some terribly clever 11-12 year olds. I feel slightly sorry for them in that my lessons were never really hard enough for them. Issues were slightly accentuated when the assistant stopped turning up to the classes. Whilst my Grade 5s obviously understand a great deal more English than my younger kids, if I wanted to do some harder activities I needed to use complicated words that they were unlikely to understand. This meant that I needed the assistant back. Her absence led to many blank faces over the year. Nevertheless I had a lot of fun with Grade 5, even if they didn’t learn much. I suppose I can be happy about the fact that my lesson at least gave them a break from their other hardcore studies. I remember how, a few months back, I walked into the classroom to be greeted with a giant cheer. The assistant shortly followed only to inform me that the maths teacher wanted to use my lesson to go over their homework. I selflessly obliged and the kids were almost crying, poor things.
Over the year I would say that generally my lessons have been targeted at the non-existent Grade 3.5 with tweaks for the younger and older students. As such Grade 4 probably had the best quality lessons. At least they did when they listened. My assistant for both grades was an absolutely lovely woman. I often joked about the students to her at the back of the room whilst I taught. The job has to have its perks…
Class 1 - Ergh. That was the noise that I frequently made halfway through teaching this class each week. They excelled at being consistently rowdy and naughty. I had particular issues when the kids were supposed to be doing eye exercises and I completely failed to get them to sit down. Even the assistant had trouble. I remember a lesson a few weeks ago where a bunch of boys were being so naughty that she was recording what they were doing on her iPhone in order to show the Principal and get them a proper telling off. Luckily (sort of) I can tell that this class is always naughty and not just in my classes because their form teacher looks and sounds like a complete nervous wreck.
Class 2 - A vast improvement on Class 1, Class 2 was very clever and most of the students were more than happy to get involved in activities and games. Actually I needn’t tell you anything, just look at the photos. It’s a shame that I always have more to write about the naughty ones but that’s just because they kindly provide you with incidents that stick in your head! Sad times.
By Grade 3 the kids are really starting to get to grips with English and can be given far harder lessons than the Grade 2s. The jump is so large that I suspect that there may be a Grade 2.5 I’m not being told about. Handily for the assistants this means that far more of the disciplinary burden can be placed on my shoulders. The kids will understand me telling them off and that I am disappointed etc. Happily though such action has only been needed for one particular class…
Class 1 - The class of the de facto head of English in the primary school, Miss Sun, Class 1 is very clever and well behaved although they do get very excited when you ask them to play any game whatsoever. Whilst all the kids get excited given the mundanity of the rest of their school lives (not to toot my own horn), Class 1 have on multiple occasions almost blown out their classroom’s windows with screams of joy as they prepare to play Hangman. One child I will remember from this class is a fairly chubby, red cheeked boy who is always angry and frustrated. I hope for the sake of his parents, teachers and fellow students that this isn’t a quality he maintains as he grows up.
Class 2 - Whilst this class has enough brain cells to get through my lessons in a fairly pain-free way they are unfortunately very poorly behaved. This was another class where I was assisted (or not assisted as was often the case) by the woman we lovingly titled ‘shit TA’ because we didn’t know her name. As such the children would often sink into a state of utter pandemonium. I think this is one of the few classes I actually shouted at. Take note future China teachers, kids (or at least this class) will be quiet if you use a big booming British voice. Whilst their behaviour was often blamed on the fact they had swimming lessons afterwards (as did Class 5 but they were angelic) I’m going to blame the assistant, again.
Class 3 - Another class of guinea pigs. Class 3 was very clever and well behaved which is just as well really because the class after them, Grade 1 Class 1 was neither. As I mentioned above however, as guinea pigs they didn’t get my best lessons. Instead it was me bumbling around figuring out how I should teach Transport, Animals, Superheroes, Space or whatever the topic was for the rest of the week. They were good to me despite that though so they can still have a sweet next week in their last lesson.
Class 5 - I *love* this class and it seems they love me too. Several of the students here regularly attach themselves to me when I go for dinner and they happen to be about. One individual named Alex is particularly fond of me. If I had to adopt one of my students as my own, it’d be him. Class 5 is adorable, friendly, enthusiastic and funny. Probably one of my favourite classes. I will definitely miss this lot!
Very much an intermediate grade in terms of their level of English, I would often give Grade 2 a Grade 1 lesson with a couple of word games thrown in for good measure. By this grade the kids can read far more words and know the alphabet particularly well. Teaching this grade was made slightly scarier by the fact that two of the four classes had a teaching assistant who I was convinced disliked me and my lessons. Alas I will never know the truth about the feelings of my most mysterious helper.
Class 1 - Crazy, absolutely crazy. Grade 2s can often be more excitable than Grade 1s which can be an issue in itself. However, if you throw in the most useless assistant known to humanity it immediately becomes more of a problem, particularly when they repeatedly decide to not turn up. Whilst I appreciate that teachers often have other work to do if you have it on your timetable to assist the poor foreigner who doesn’t speak much Chinese, go. It’s the most charitable thing you will do in your day and I won’t develop a passionate dislike for you and refuse to give you a present at the end of the year. Rant over!
Class 2 - Aww Class 2! They’re a sweet class! Very clever compared to Class 1 and far more keen when it came to activities. This class likes to sing a lot and they often belt out a round of ‘Teacher I love you’ or some other song they’ve been learning out of the blue. This class is likely to be my last and I will miss them dearly. They always did a fantastic job of cheering me up before my weekend if I’d a few tough classes beforehand.
Class 3 - Again, a bit crazy. You can see this in the photo where they appear to be launching themselves towards the camera. More manageable than Class 1 given that the assistant was always in attendance but we’d always leave feeling fairly exhausted from the constant disciplining required. Unfortunately this class wasn’t very clever either which meant that they would struggle to understand some of the more complicated things that frankly even Grade 1 would probably grasp. Ah well. I tried!
Class 5 - My favourite Grade 2 class. Incredibly intelligent for their age and very well behaved. I also have my favourite assistant for this class who appears to have the innate ability to control any class of children no matter their age. She even managed it with Grade 1 Class 3. Truly, she is descended from the heavens.
Nearly a third of my classes this year have been Grade 1. These little boys and girls are new to the world of school and only five or six years old. As their first experience of a foreign teacher I was the cause of much excitement when I entered their classes for the first time. Grade 1 has probably been the hardest for me to teach this year. Not because they’re necessarily naughtier but just because they’re still trying to get to grips with their own language, let alone a brand new one. Nonetheless they are the most adorable grade and have provided me with many happy memories. This grade has also proven to be the one with children most likely to attach themselves to my legs and try and drag me into their classrooms.
Class 1 - As my first Grade 1 class of the week, Class 1 were my guinea pigs for the easier versions of my lessons. This often meant that I had no idea what I was doing, frequently spending ten minutes of the lesson figuring out how to make activities work properly. Sadly this class was also fairly naughty so the situation was even more interesting! Add in the fact that the teaching assistant was extremely docile and you have a powder-keg of excitable, cheeky children who are more than happy to scream the house down without notice.
Class 2 - Perhaps one of my less remarkable Grade 1 classes. This is probably just because they were fairly well behaved and relatively good at English. I don’t recall any major traumas with this bunch which is just as well really as I teach them at 8am on a Friday morning.
Class 3- Another loud class. Actually you can tell they’re naughty because they’re sitting down in the photo. I couldn’t deal with the hassle of moving them to the back! This class had the same assistant as Class 1 so they tended to take advantage of the fact they were unlikely to be quietened down as regularly as they should have been. Whilst I would have loved to take the opportunity to do this myself every ten seconds, a telling off in Chinese is far more effective in a class of children who have barely learnt how to say their name and tell you that they have a pet. In the second row of desks on the left there is a girl on the right who attempted to make my life hell in Class 3. She’s disconcertingly malicious for a five year old. I have decided that she has a future career as a Disney villain.
Class 5 - I often described this class as my ‘angel class’. Their teaching assistant stopped turning up half way through the year because she realised that she didn’t really need to be there. A student by the name of Yoyo with fantastic English took the role instead, translating for me and making sure that I knew what the kids were saying. This class also has the bizarre ability amongst five year olds to self police ensuring that they remained quiet most of the time. Whilst they were prone to the odd bout of craziness, particularly when a visitor was in the class, they were without a doubt my favourite Grade 1 class.
Class 7 - A very friendly but particularly energetic class. I often felt like I needed a lie down after fighting through forty minutes with these forty boys and girls. You can tell this is the case as I refused to let them stand up for the photo! They always used to make me laugh as, upon entering the class *every single week*, some of them would say ‘Daniel is my father’, ‘Daniel is my mother’, ‘Daniel is my dog’. I think I was sometimes a cat or a fish, but I can’t remember…