Wow, well that was an experience. The first class I entered I had no teaching materials and I had no clue what I was doing. I went for the whole "Get to know me approach" but after they had guessed my age (38) and where I came from (Australia) I wasn't sure what else they could guess. I tried asking them if they had brothers/ sisters but they clearly didn't understand this.
So I then turned to tactic two, which was to ask them what the teacher had been doing with them. At this point the teacher came in and gave me some flash cards of big,little, short, long, round, square, new and old. I drilled this with them checking pronunciation (they already knew the words), checked with a few of them if they could say it individually and then played games with them. The games I just made up, for example I had three people at the front acting out the words and the students guessed, I asked students whether objects were big/little/old etc and got them to say yes or no... etc. They were very noisy and talked over me, even when I did the "special clap" which means for them to be quiet. Also a few of them got up and left the room, but because there was a teacher with me who didn't say anything, I presumed this was ok... In the end I resorted to twinkle twinkle little star and heads/ shoulders/ knees and toes!
After the class the teacher took me to one side for some feedback and said that I was being too energetic and if I continued like this I would DIE. She also said I needed to take more time to teach the vocabulary, but I told her I thought it was my job just to review it? She said that it was ok today because it was a review but in future I needed to teach it slower... I found myself thinking that surely this was obvious but didn't say anything! She said that I needed to not talk over them and make sure they were quiet, which I thought was all very well when they actually listen to her... And she also said I wasn't allowed to let them leave without asking. To me, in England, this is obvious, but I had no idea how schools in Vietnam worked and no-one had told me. She also said that they all have teams and they play the games in teams and have stars given to them. If they are naughty they get stars taken away... I couldn't help but feel that all of this information would have been much more useful BEFORE I taught the lesson but never mind, that's the Vietnamese way!
My second and third lessons weren't much better, they continued to talk over me, I never managed to get complete silence. I tried to do the whole "I'm not going to speak until you stop speaking" technique, but after standing for 5 minutes with my hands cupped around my ears I gave up on this. The last class was slightly better because the Vietnamese teacher would interject and shout at them in Vietnamese- which seems to be the only way to shut them up and incredibly unhelpful to me. I considered pretending I was speaking Vietnamese and just shouting irately but decided this might cause offence...
The feedback from my final teacher was that I need to drill the pronunciation more, asking EVERY individual in the class to say EVERY word, one at a time. I explained that I was worried they would be bored, and therefore talk more but she said it was ok and just kept saying "If you clap, they understand to stop talking..." NO. THEY. DONT. Well, they do. It doesn't meant they act upon it!
At one point three boys zipped their coats over their heads and started running around the class pretending to be zombies....
My kindergarten classes presented the opposite problem; they were extremely shy and often wouldn't repeat anything I said. Unfortunately for me, the first four kids knew their names, so I went with this, asking everyone else their name. It was painful. It didn't help that when a few of them did speak, I couldn't actually tell if they were telling me their name or saying something else in Vietnamese...
Then I had to teach the words ball, spoon, water, float and sink. Teaching the concept of float and sink to five year olds in my country would be hard enough... but this was right over their heads. I was meant to teach the structure "The ball floats" but when I said "Ball. Float. Yes? or No?" I got no response so sentences were clearly beyond them. I had to do this for half an hour. It was tough and I'm not sure what the teachers thought!
My best class was my last, I was teaching them animals and they were more confident. We sang old MacDonald and I played a game where they had to walk and stand by the animal I called out. However, this ended up in them dive bombing onto the picture and screaming... maybe not a good idea. It was particularly amusing teaching them PEA-COCK. They have difficulty pronouncing the end of the words so there was me saying the second part of peacock... over and over again, with them shouting it back at me. At one point I was actually laughing out loud.
At least now I know what I'm teaching because I have to teach the same class to year ones all week! Trying to establish what I was doing in the Kindergarten was a nightmare, but after asking: Who am I teaching? How old are they? What level are they? What am I teaching? What time? How long are the classes? What resources do I have? Where is the classroom? I established what was going on!
So. I've come home and planned for tomorrow. I've got some ideas from other teachers on games and techniques for making the kids shut up and am glad to find it's not just me having these problems! On the plus side everyone gave me the time of day and were really supportive and friendly, it's just when I'm teaching I really am on my own!
Aside from teaching, I went to buy my friend from the volunteer house (Sophie) a dragon fruit for her birthday because she also hasn't seen them in England! It was 35,000 dong a kilo and I asked the woman for the price she said 30,000 dong which I thought was great. Then she put it on the scales and it was only just over half a kilo and she still said 30,000. I said, no, 30,000 for 1 kilo and pointed to the scales. (I know this because we have a list of fruits in the house and how much it should cost.) She smiled and said "Ok, 20.000". I repeated this to clarify and gave her the money. She then took 25000 dong. I said, no, 2000? And she smiled and said 25000… Cheeky cow.
So, it was interesting, quite hard and extremely tiring. I am hoping/ presuming that each day gets easier!
Goodnight, love you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx