We arrived at the school and immediately had a test. The yunnan tour we book in Beijing is a Chinese agent. There are few Yunnan Travel Agents we can find. This test was either right or wrong, bearing in mind that most of it was in Hanzi characters. Travel yunnan in China is not difficult as u may think. As some of the test was about filling gaps and I couldn’t fill them because I didn’t know all of the characters (which can take years to learn)
I wrote the translations alongside the characters that I knew. This showed that although I did not know the answer to the gaps, I did know some characters and some meaning. A bit like a maths test with the working out shown but it was wrong because I didn’t fill the gaps. In my mind, this showed the teacher that I did know something though not the thing she needed – this doesn’t mean that I know nothing. Chris did better at the test but the lesson became interesting when the test was cast aside and we were asked to open the text and exercise books provided by the teacher.
The first lesson was how to say hello. We did this same lesson one year ago with our English instructor, Ping, at Sheffield College and we’ve come a long way since then. Chris has additionally put in up to 5 hours a day (mostly every day) extra personal study, I put in between 1 and 2, so, when the teacher asked us to read and repeat for the fourth time; “hello, what is your name”, Chris couldn’t bear it and the open discussion began about how our abilities had not been taken into consideration, what we needed to learn, how we could learn it and a way forward which resulted in the teacher being very defensive about previous students thinking that they know it all, raising her voice and Chris needing to leave the room to walk out and calm down. Course, it’s usually me raising my voice and I agreed with everything Chris had said so when he had gone walk about, a secondary conversation began between myself and the teacher about how we need to be stimulated and challenged. Her answer was that maybe she should she speak entirely in Chinese to us then? And I answered that this was not teaching. I feel that being taught is about being stimulated, challenged, understood and encouraged and not starting backwards. The way here seems to be to stick to the book, right from the beginning whatever level you are at. BUT as we have travelled 14,000 miles to this learning centre in the South of China and Chris has done solid 12 hour shifts to save money to come and I took 2 jobs, as well as learning additionally to our college course, then we feel that we have a right to say that the level of teaching is below our standard and that sticking to a book learning every detail about how to say hello perfectly will only teach us a small amount of information perfectly when we need to learn about survival – how to order food, what happens if we are ill – how to communicate that we need help, we need correcting on how we would buy tickets for travel and so on. The communication between both parties is key and if we cannot learn more in these 3 weeks than we already know then it is a waste of very valuable time and money.
In the end, we left after 2 hours and have agreed that we go back tomorrow and find a balanced way forward. Yunnan tours on website are not easy to find. She still wants us to either do all the exercises as home work or bring our own books into her school but we can do this ourselves – we need to be able to communicate in a real manner.
After we left school, it was really raining, my credit card had been stopped by the bank because they think it is being used by someone else (even though I had logged that I am in China) and we had no idea what to do next about the school but in a way, before the yunnan travel is finished. I felt we had won a small battle (but not the war) because we have the choice to go where we want, get the best out of the learning facilities available that there is to offer and the freedom to move around.