Approaching the final weeks

Exam season is upon us…. Sort of. Our (and by our, I mean the foreign teachers) seem to be doing their oral exams now, as opposed to the Chinese teachers who do it in the final week. But they do a speaking exam whereby students have to discuss a topic. My classes are doing presentations, in the same format as last semester, only better. For one thing, I’ve split it over two weeks, which means they can talk for longer. I have also explained things more clearly and so they all (or mostly) understand what I mean by a leaflet, as opposed to a poster. And although I’ve only seen a couple of finished presentations (they have to send me their slides, leaflets and video, if they do one, before their first exam class), they look like they’ve genuinely put in some effort and done what I’ve asked. Not to say that last semester they did not; I had some very good presentations, but I think this semester the students understand the brief better.

I have given them three topics – a career, a sport or a new product, and they have to create an advertising campaign, explaining what their topic is, why it is good, and how they would encourage other students to do it/use it. This latter bit was something I asked them to do last semester but most groups did not do it in a way I had envisaged. Still, they did their best and that is all anyone can ask of them.

We have about five weeks left: I have timetables two weeks for exams (three, if needs be), then a quiz (I did one at the end of last semester – general knowledge etc, and it worked pretty well), then a week I have not yet decided on what I will do, then the listening exam and we are done!

I have not yet seen the listening exam. After last semester’s fiasco, I would hope that my Chinese colleagues have the foresight to consult us on language and let us read through the exams before they send them to us. However, I am not confident that will happen. We will see!

I am excited – I have discovered a cinema nearby my university. It takes about five-ten minutes to walk across campus and then maybe another ten or so minutes to walk to this cinema, but a) it’s cheaper than the one I usually go to (which is in a shopping mall nearby RDFZ, where I used to work); b) it seems cheaper than the other one (and comfier seats, although so far I have only been in one screen); c) it means I do not have to take the subway to get there; and d) it seems to open earlier than the one I usually go to, which is only open when the mall opens at 10:00. This one has films on from 08:30, and maybe earlier!

Speaking of films, of course I have watched Avengers: Infinity War (more than once… I am a fanboy after all!). 😜

Things have been happening here regarding next year. Anthony, my American colleague who shares a passion for horror films, and who lives immediately opposite me in the hotel where I live, has got another job. Indeed, this was a job I turned down, because I did not want the hassle of changing jobs and having to get another visa (it is a complicated process. He does not think he can leave Beijing before mid-July). So, I already knew he was leaving. The academic year began with six teachers, but one left in January during the holiday, so we were then down to five. Now, with Anthony going, it would leave four teachers for next year (including me). However, two of my female colleagues have been told that they cannot return next year due to their age. One I rarely see as she works different days to me – she does run a charity however, for migrant children (the children of workers who come to Beijing from the countryside to work, and who as a result do not have the same access to services as those who are born in Beijing). I am not sure what she will do now. The other teacher was planning to leave anyway after next year, but now she has to finish in a few weeks. If they cannot recruit any new teachers (and I would doubt they can; perhaps I am wrong, but organisation is not something that some of the Chinese teachers here excel at), then it will just be me and my South African colleague. At the moment, he only teaches an elective class, though he does teach the non-English majors extra (covering for the teacher who left in January). I told him, if they don’t find someone else, then after next year, he may be the last one standing! He does not really want to teach the non-majors, or more specifically follow the textbook closely. I was told I would have the English majors only, but that might now change I guess. I have no idea what will happen and, I suspect my Chinese colleagues do not know either!! Only time will tell…

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