Winter Camping

My vacation from Tsinghua started about two weeks ago.  Since then, I have been working a couple of other part time jobs.  My reasons for this decision were:  

  1. Make some extra money during the winter when experiential opportunity costs were low;
  2. Diversify my work experiences in China to get a better glimpse of the country’s work culture and give myself lots of PT options professionally;
  3. Escape the construction noise that has been happening in the apartment above ours for the past month. 
The New Oriental Logo

The New Oriental Logo

The bulk of my time this break has been spent at a program called “Elite” offered by New Oriental.  During the spring festival holiday, they offer what is called “Winter Camp” for students ages 4-18.  Usually, students work on grammar mechanics with a Chinese (non-native) English teacher for half the day and then work on oral communication with a native English speaker for the other half.  That means when I work for a full day (8-hours), I usually spend it with two groups of students.

There are many great aspects to teaching at the winter camps in Elite. 

  1. Classes are small – only 3-9 students per class.  This means it is easy to get to know the students and they get lots of attention.  It also is easier to manage. 

    A typical classroom at New Oriental Elite.

    A typical classroom at New Oriental Elite.

  2. The program is flexible regarding curriculum as long as you keep students using their English.  That means that in addition to the workbook exercises, you can play plenty of fun language games. 

    My students really enjoyed playing games that helped them practice their English.  These helped make the program feel more like camp and less like school, a welcome change for everyone.

    My students really enjoyed playing English games. They definitely helped make the program feel more like camp and less like school, a welcome change for everyone.

  3. Compared to other winter camps that can require staying overnight on a campus outside the city, Elite is only a 30-minute subway ride from our apartment.

    This leg of my daily subway trip to work gets especially crazy. Trains drop off hundreds of people every 2-3 minutes, and everyone has to use the same staircase to exit the platform. If you don't assert yourself and push through, you stay behind.

    This leg of my daily subway trip to work gets especially crazy. Trains drop off hundreds of people every 2-3 minutes, and everyone has to use the same staircase to exit the platform. If you don't assert yourself and push through, you stay behind.

  4. Lots of reasons to laugh and keep it light.  Like in many Chinese work places, idiosyncrasies abound.

    Teachers use the classroom window as a white board.  It can be tough to see from the back.

    Teachers use the classroom window as a white board. Space efficient, but it can be tough to see from the back.

  5. The winter camp staff are helpful and easy to get along with.

    When one of my second graders locked the door to the classroom, one of the staff members had to find the key. Not an easy task given the center’s key organization system. We found it after 15 minutes.

    When one of my second graders locked the door to the classroom, one of the staff members had to find the key. Not an easy task given the center’s key organization system. We found it after 15 minutes.

  6. The pay is competitive especially since one classroom hour is actually 45 minutes of teaching. 
  7. They provide a free lunch to teachers.

I still have one more week of working at Elite before I enjoy a full week off for Spring Festival with Tian and her parents.  Next week is only five hours in the afternoons though, so I get to sleep in!

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