Training sessions… or not

Now I am teaching the English major students, I was asked to attend a training session on Wednesday, about a new computer programme I can use with my speaking class. I asked if it was going to be in Chinese, and was told by our liaison teacher it probably would be (regardless of the fact the room is full of English teachers), and that they would help me with it. So, I went along. And it was all in Chinese (I guess, the IT guy running the session did not speak English). Moreover, the liaison teacher did little to explain what the programme did. She asked at one point if I would use computers in class, and I said that, unless they were using them for specific things, I would not want them in the classroom, as they can be a distraction (certainly, in UK, I have found that students will usually log in and spend the time on social media instead of doing the work they should). The layout of the training room was better than usual in computer classrooms – the desks were not facing the front but instead ran length-ways so it would be easy for a teacher to circulate around the room.

The liaison admitted that speaking is better face-to-face, and I agreed, and said that you could do pair work, but if you do group work it is very difficult to see the other group members because they have a computer in their way. I also said that, as I still did not understand what the programme did, I would not be able to use it in any class. She sort-of explained it to me, although it was vague at best and not understandable at worst. From what I did gather, however, was that you could play a video through this programme and it will give you the lyrics. Which is potentially a good idea, but how it works remains to be seen (and this might even not be what the programme does; as I said, it was not clear).

This was an example of a typical meeting here; not much use, and not easy to explain how or why something works (or why we should be using it). The liaison even said, ‘new technology….’ Implying that it was new so everyone was excited, but actually it might not be that useful (to me, at least).

She also asked me about my culture class, which is also indicative of here. Not how they were, but whether I had spoken with the other teacher (I did not know whether she meant the teacher who taught it last year, or whether there are two teachers, me and another; she seemed to imply the latter, which was news to me). She did say that we would probably do different things, which if the teacher who used to teach it still is, and is still doing what they sent me, then we will, indeed do different things. I should be used to this by now, but even now it can still be a little frustrating about lack of information and last-minute details.

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