As part of last Friday’s test, the Phoenixes had to write stories starting with the phrase “Once upon a time.” One of my students wrote about a girl who had to grow up without parents and support herself. The moral of her story was “where there’s a way, there’s a will.”
Although Britney didn’t get the wording quite right, I think “where there’s a will, there’s a way” is the perfect phrase for the Phoenixes. We have our fair share of struggles during class, usually stemming from a lack of English vocabulary. However, I think the students have definitely improved at describing words for me over the past two weeks, and they are becoming less shy about asking questions as time goes on. Sometimes, I can see that they lack the confidence to try and explain what they’re talking about, but when they try their best, things always work out. They don’t need to use Chinese in the classroom, because they really are capable of explaining themselves in English. My students are so smart and know a lot of things; I think the biggest problem most of the time is that they are too scared to push themselves that extra step and simply don’t realize how much they truly know.
The students that I am the most proud of are the ones that persevere and display a huge desire to improve their English. It is so encouraging to see them working hard, and to see that hard work pay off in the long run. Even though I’ve only spent two and a half weeks with my students, I can already see a huge difference in how they act. Students that used to never answer questions are now shouting out example sentences for me in class, one of my youngest, and quietest, students nearly sprinted across the classroom to win a point for her team in a vocabulary game, and several students show up to class early in the mornings to study. I can see the change outside the classroom, too. Today after dinner, Dada asked me to help her with her pronunciation, and we practiced saying the word “turtle” for close to 10 minutes. (Turtle is a harder word to say than you would think, by the way.)
Moments like this are why I came to China.
A girl named Cherry wrote her “Once upon a time” story about.…a girl called Cherry who entered an English program. Sound familiar? Anyway, the last two (slightly edited) lines in her story were: “With the help of the teacher, she began to slowly have the courage to speak English. Finally, her English improved and she found confidence.” Reading stories like this one and seeing students like Cherry improve over the weeks and recognize their own achievements makes me really happy to be a teacher!