Wednesday, May 14, 2008

End of the Semester

Today I signed grade books for the freshman American Culture I class. Since this was more of an administrative day than a teaching one, I asked each of them what they learned this semester that they did not know before. I was not really surprised when many of them framed their answers with "Maybe I learned..." My response was well did you or didn't you learn this information. At the end, I gave them a farewell piece of advice. Drop "maybe" from use most of the time. I explained that maybe gave them the subliminal message that perhaps they did not learn something, but also it was a sign of a lack of confidence. With lots of hand gestures and body language, I tried to impress upon them that they needed to develop confidence in their responses, not to be afraid. All semester, I have had a visitor, a woman from China sitting in on my class. All I knew was she was here to monitor classes, for what purpose, I never had a chance to ask. After signing all of the grade books today, she came up to me and asked to speak with me. She explained that she teaches at one of the 'smallest' universities in China with "only" 8,000 students and 600 instructors. Due to their size, they have had difficulty recruiting native speakers in the past. She is the department head of the English Department and wanted to know if I would consider a position at her university. At first, this went over my head. I thought she wanted me to come for a semester. After explaining I could only leave the country for 90 days a year without disrupting my permanent residency status, she asked when I would leave Hungary? When I assured her this was not in the immediate plans, she asked if I would be willing to come to give teacher education seminars to the other instructors. With a sad look on her face, she admitted that China had a lack of teachers like me and they needed training to be more Americanized. I had to control my laughter when she said that the Hungarian instructors, whose classes she sat in on were just like the Chinese. Then she fed my ego by saying she learned more from me than she did from any of the others combined. We finally agreed that I would consider going to China to provide workshops and trainings until the thoughts or appeal of moving there for a teaching positions comes home to roost. It seems there are many corporations willing to support the expenses of bringing a foreign instructor over, but I also offered to put her in touch with the Regional English Language Officer also. So who knows, I may be going to China to do teacher training for college instructors.

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