I sat down and counted the days I have left in China. The last 6 weeks in Xi'an have involved a myriad of challenges and triumphs. I am finally at the point where I feel like I can somewhat have basic conversations in Chinese with locals. The communication has been incredibly rewarding! Further, I can use the transit system and get around without having to think too hard about it! So, it is a little sad to think that my flight back to Calgary is just under 3 weeks away.
The last few weeks of teaching have been even more challenging than my previous practicums. For one, I am teaching grade 8 physics, despite having a social studies specialization. Further, it is my students' second year in English immersion, so their oral and reading comprehension is quite beginner level. I felt like I was teaching both English and physics in one lesson! Having no partner or supervising teacher, I was most often on my own in teaching my classes. So, my teaching method has changed dramatically since the first week, as I tweaked and adjusted my practices. After lots of trial and error, I established an interactive vocabulary routine at the beginning of each class. The vocabulary words were concepts that we would be covering during the day's lesson. Further, I used the "think-pair-share" method to get students to hypothesize about some of the inquiry questions posed at the beginning of our lessons. Finally, I was able to mix in some Bill Nye: The Science Guy during the classes!
I have observed that the education system here seems to be quite standardized. I have not seen an emphasis on multimodality or any accommodations for different learners. There certainly aren't many resources to help each of the 50 students in the classroom.
My Chinese classes have definitely picked up in pace. We have quizzes each day, and multiple pages of homework. Last week, we even wrote 200-character letters in Chinese! The Chinese we've learned so far has been very helpful in navigating the city and speaking with locals.
Finally, I have enjoyed exploring more of Xi'an. Last week, I traveled to Luoyang to visit the UNESCO world heritage site: the Longmen Grottoes! It was magnificent.