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Last week was the end of the semester at my college in Anqing. Now comes the daunting task of giving my students their final English oral examination. I have 272 (7 classes) students and must test each one individually. A few years ago our Department tried to implement a standardized English oral exam but the results were not satisfactory.

There are lots of "10 Things" lists out there. Here's mine.
1) Plan ahead, but don’t feel constrained by your plan.
Plans can make you feel more confident, and can help you avoid making a complete fool of yourself. On the other hand, plans (like a syllabus) presume you know your subject and you know (or can at least approximate) the skills and abilities of your students.

I've been living and teaching in Guiyang, Guizhou, China for four years now. That doesn't make me an expert, I suppose, but it might give me some perspective.

My limited experience has taught me that: (1) everything I read about China before I came here was wrong; (2) teaching here is interesting, frustrating, fascinating, and fun; and (3) China is loud.

Last Sunday, as you know, was Mother’s Day in Canada and the USA. Since the “Reform and Opening Up Policy” established in the early eighties by the Chinese government, Western festivals and holidays have become increasing popular here. Mother’s Day is no exception, with both the restaurants and flower shops doing a booming business.

Over my years here in Anqing I have invited friends and colleagues to my humble abode to enjoy a taste of Western style cooking. The dishes ranged from the very simple (chili con carne) to ones with a more gourmet touch (medallions of pork tenderloin) .Whatever the fare, my guests seemed to enjoy the experience. Last year some of my students came to my home to have a basic cooking lesson.

I have been teaching English in China since 2006 and started to learn Chinese in a serious way in 2008. It is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn but well worth the effort. My objective was to be able to communicate in a basic way and I think I am well on my way to accomplishing that goal.

Some years ago I watched a wonderful 6 part documentary broadcast on the English News Network here(CCTV) on the life of Edgar Snow, an American writer and journalist who was credited with introducing the Western world to the Chinese Communist Party and its leader Mao Zedong in his 1937 book Red Star Over China.

Wedding Bells in China
Yesterday was Lantern Festival Day (Yuanxiaojie) in China, marking the official end to the Spring Festival (Chunjie) which began on February 9th, 2013, the eve of the Chinese New Year. This is a popular time for weddings here and so over the last two weeks hundreds of couples have tied the knot in Anqing where I now teach.

Over my years here in China I have been asked to give English names to newborns of my Chinese colleagues and friends. I consider this a great honor and take the requests seriously. Recently there has been a wave of births in our department so I have been working overtime to come up with suitable and meaningful names.


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