Christmas has been and gone, and New Year is nearly here! In terms of gifts, as ever I was very lucky. I got a cool Doctor Who ‘Gallifrey University’ hoodie; three books by famous British comedians, a mug, a little notebook, socks (always useful), some Christmas novelty items, and some chocolate.
The Christmas meal was also good, and it was nice to socialise with and meet other teachers who I did not know. As I only had one day off I was back to teaching on Tuesday, but not before, post-meal, I managed to Skype my parents and also watch a Christmas film.
On Wednesday, I had a meeting about the listening exam which will be held next week. I have to say I left – like many Chinese meetings – more confused and also a little annoyed. The recordings had been sent to us via email, as had the questions. But reading through the questions, which in the exam we are to put on the screen in the classroom so students can read it, I found it was littered with errors. There are four exams – one for the morning and one for the afternoon on both days I teach – and all four had mistakes in them. Some very simple grammatical errors, some were missing words, and in a few cases, the questions didn’t even make sense. I was getting more than a little frustrated at the meeting trying to explain this, when one of my foreign colleagues said I should not get too annoyed, and that the students probably would not notice anyway. That is true – for many things they wouldn’t, but there is a sense of pride in my work and also, it reflects badly on me if there are errors. The questions had been compiled by the Chinese English teachers in the department but, of course, had not been proof read (never mind the fact they are English teachers and therefore should know better). It follows a common theme of things I’ve seen here – explanations are not clear, and things are done sloppily. It was clear by the different fonts and also some of the same errors in each document, that bits had simply been copied and pasted.
I was asked to correct the mistakes, which I did, and then the questions and answers were sent around again. It is only by chance I looked at the questions and listened to the recordings. For the exams on days I do not teach, I don’t know, and the Chinese teachers would presumably have used the questions full of errors anyway since none of them noticed. Exams are often the one thing that gets neglected here. It is very disappointing and more than a little annoying that I had to rework a lot of the questions, and does not reflect highly on the department.
I have booked my flights for winter holidays, so that feels more real now and I am looking forward to it. I will not be travelling until the end of January, unlike many of my colleagues who leave at the start of the week beginning 8 January. I have some things I want to do here first, but I am hoping to squeeze in a trip to Shanghai for a few days before I start my main winter break (I have not been to Shanghai yet).