Published December 7th, 2006 by Mliesie

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…..

Yes, we’ve had a couple of days with snow already and many days with ’snowy’ skies. It is now really cold in Yulin although we’re not even close to the coldest part of winter…. During the day it’s about -13 degrees, but fortunately very often with sunny blue skies. In the morning though, when I wake up, ice is stuck to my windows in threefold. Just imagine how cold it must  be during the nights!! As we live in a very cold part of China, we do have central heating, fired up with coal and controlled centrally. I can hear the powerhouse from my bedroom, because it’s noisy and it so hot in my bedroom…….. I sleep with my windows wide open at night!

The students and teachers have been wearing thermal underwear since about the beginning of November as far as I can remember. They keep telling us we should wear warmer clothes and dress warmer than we do now, when we come in wearing a skirt with woollen tights or a sweater with 3/4 sleeves! But as the classes are heated pretty well, that’s not really necessary. Last week I was almost swetting during one of my classes, and I wasn’t even jumping around like crazy at that time! The cold outside is bearable, especially when the sun is out. I am more and more convinced that the Chinese metabolism is different from ours as well as other bodily functions, and that is why they get cold so quickly. Their whole physique is obviously different from ours and it is said that’s the reason they cannot stand the cold as well as we can. Would be an interesting field to examine. Hmmm, bet somebody has already done that….

This week I’ve told my students they will have to do an oral exam. They simultaneaously held their breath, until I explained to them it would be just like speaking English in class, but only in very small groups. Fortunately that brought back the smiles on their faces. I, myself am not really looking forward to these exams. About 200 students to test and trying to stay focused and objective constantly. Pfaaah! I do roughly know what the level of most of my students is and I also ‘hear’ that most of them have made amazing progress since they entered Oral Classes in October (I wish I could say it was all thanks to me…..) so it’s just a matter of shipshaping. I will start testing 18 December and it will take me about 2 weeks to finish all my classes….hopefully. I’ve set up a schedule and hope it will work out the way I planned. I doubt it, as nothing in China seems to work out the way you plan it……Keep your fingers crossed for me.

As to the writing classes, they are preparing for CET6 and after the winter vacation we will continue with TEM4. The latter is Test for English Majors and very important to all the students in the English department. Unfortunately for the students the teachers do not prepare them for those exams, as they have to finish their own schedule (are we student focused or teacher focused???). Kate and I are now coaching the students……We don’t really have a schedule to finish, as long as we give the students a mark at the end of term. This we will do through ongoing assessment; meaning….the students have handed in homework all through term, the marks for all this work will be added up and divided by the total number of assignments which should give a nice average. In this way the students don’t have to start freaking out, because they’re so nervous for exams AND they will have a relatively straighter mark. It’s not a random indication, which exams usually are……in my humble opinion.

I will keep you posted on how the exams went AND if my plans did work out in the end!


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