Changsha: No. 15 Middle School
The students of the Changsha No. 15 Middle School were divided into two classes of 20 students: older middle schoolers (7-8th graders) and younger high schoolers (9-10th graders). The latter had a generally higher English level than the former, but each class had a few students that stood out as being very good at speaking and thinking in English, and a few students who really struggled.
In planning a curriculum for this two week camp, I tried to incorporate basic English grammar and speaking drills into the first part of the morning, followed by applied English activities such as TV shows, songs, etc., followed by Western Experience activities, lectures, and games. I used the English in Mind series of textbooks to help the students with grammar, utilizing level 1 for middle schoolers and level 3 for high schoolers. Considering that my class consisted of middle schoolers, I deemphasized college related items and instead worked with the students on more age appropriate matters like asking for directions, making friends, and ordering food.
Our coordinator, Puxi, was amazing and supportive and had a high English speaking ability which allowed me to teach my classes in a more successful fashion. That said, I have been studying Chinese for five years and frequently switched from English to Chinese to explain concepts to the students, who (especially the younger ones) could not often understand more complex English sentences.
I stayed at the 7 Days Inn off of Ziyuan Road and Laodong West Road, a vibrant neighborhood a short walk from the school. There was a great deal to do around the hotel, including a cute breakfast caf¨¦, several local Hunan restaurants, and, down the road aways, a giant Ferris Wheel with great views of the city. After the two weeks of camp, I also took advantage of Changsha¡¯s location to take a bus to Fenghuang Ancient Town about 4 hours west, a relatively cheap trip that afforded amazing views and experiences.
Overall, the experience in Changsha was amazing ¨C despite the students having low English level, I feel like they came a long way with my curriculum, and the faculty of the school welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home, taking me to several local restaurants and sights and ensuring I had a ride to the airport and even to the bus station where I went to Fenghuang. In summation, everyone went above and beyond to make my experience in Changsha a positive one, and I felt like I developed strong bonds with my students as a result of all that positivity.
--- Thomas Nielsen
Based in Changsha, Hunan Province, 2015