Thursday, 25 March 2010

Guests of Honour

I have been judging an English competition, in a local primary school with a couple of the other teachers from EF Puri. It's been a nice experience so far except that it has meant that I've worked a couple of fourteen hour days. I'm getting paid a lot of overtime for it, as the school seems to value their marketing schemes, of which I'm sure this is... funnily enough I arrived to judge the event on the second morning and who did I see but 'Audrey' an EF Puri student. Her spoken English is excellent and she kept asking me random questions. I'm glad that I'm not teaching her anymore as she is extremely demanding and almost strives for exclusive attention from the teacher... which is hard in a class of fourteen young kids. I've included a photo but don't let the cuteness fool you! Judging was a really nice experience and the school were very appreciative, they looked after us quite well and provided us with some pretty good food - Indonesia has some tasty school dinners. The most amusing aspect of this experience was watching how engrossed the teachers and parents were with the progress of their kids during the competition... I just felt like saying "relax the poor dudes are only 5!" Some parents were arguing trying to get us to change the rules to allow their kids into the final. Chinese-Indonesian parents are very controlling and put too much pressure on their children at a young age - well from this experience this is how I feel - of course I'm only generalising really... I'd just like to thank Miss Dewi for having us and being so pleasant - she's never going to read this but it's a nice gesture - I'll probably never see her again though. I've also included a photo of Justin and Temmy my colleagues and fellow judges for the visit.

I've also had my first bad experience with "The kid who gets his willy out" - luckily he kept his private parts private - but he did poke another boy in the eye. We were playing "hot potato" which is a game where we practice vocabulary and students have to say a word from a certain lexical set and pass the ball quickly. Well this boy passed the ball, turned to the kid next to him, and poked him in the eye. I picked him up from his chair and took him outside, I didn't shout at him, I just gave him a very stern look and made him face the wall for 30 minutes or so. I then tried to take him to the Dos' office but he grabbed his bag and ran for his life - once he'd said sorry of course - he's a nice kid at heart, just a mentalist. He's always relatively badly behaved and I'm not sure how much I do to discourage his bad behaviour. I usually find the mild stuff quite entertaining... for example in the same lesson he looked at me, looked at another child and then looked back at me, cocked his leg, farted, and put his hand up... "Mr... Mr... Kevin Kentut" - kentut is Indonesian for fart - excuse my immaturity but I thought that was genius, no subtlety at all... brilliant! I'm sure he's going to make a fine husband to some Indonesian bird in a few years! Providing he develops this persona further! His father has also phoned the school to say that he is pleased that I'm teaching him and is really happy that overall his child is improving under my "tutelage" - I'm happy about this - but it's kind of ironic that I've been pulling classic classroom pranks on him - like moving his chair back when he stands up so that he falls on the floor! Hehehe I know it was a stupid and dangerous thing to do, but he loved it... Teaching here holds many perplexing phenomena... cultural clashes are common and fathers tend to respect a disciplinarian approach while mothers kick off big time if you so much as look at their kid the wrong way. It's also a big cultural thing here to 'save face', this is annoying as nobody is ever straight to your face, they just call the school and leave their positive/negative feedback.

On a more personal note, I've been having a slightly less harsh critique on my body weight. I weighed myself yesterday and have lost about a stone and a half in two months - which is pretty good going considering I eat mainly fried carbs, which is what the Indonesian diet mainly consists of - so I'm proud of that. Of course I still get the odd moment where the fact that I'm tubby is a great source of amusement... today one of the girls in my 12 year-old class told me that her friend was fat like me, to which I jokingly responded that I'm not fat, this created some confusion with the language barrier and had two of the other girls in hysterics for about 10 minutes...

Monday, 22 March 2010

Random week!

This week has started on a lesser note than last week. I'm starting to realise that the reality of teaching here sometimes is not exactly, always, to a high standard. The company has little in the way of effective staff training – in my humble opinion – and I'm finding it a little difficult to restrain my opinions. I don't like it when people preach incorrect philosophies – pedagogical or not... when I think someone is talking shit, I tend to feel the need to tell them. That kind of happened in a staff meeting this week, although I was somewhat more diplomatic than telling them that they were talking shit, but not much. I care not to divulge any further as this is merely a rant and an effective way of collaborating my thoughts.

On a lighter note, I was offered a donut today by Nana one of the other teachers... I jumped at the chance when offered – but it's almost an everyday occurrence in Indonesia that things aren't quite as they appear... This was a "sugar-coated cheese and bacon donut!" - It was pretty grim, although I still finished it... half to be polite and half because I was intrigued throughout as the taste got stranger and stranger.

I've had some random experiences here so far and today held one that made me laugh. My advanced class of teenagers are okay, but they are lazy, and are almost certainly late... except for one fourteen year old who always starts random conversations about classical music and I don't really know what she's talking about, while we wait for the rest of the class to arrive. This lesson was intriguing as it highlighted the lack of scope of the Indonesian private education system. All of our kids are from wealthy backgrounds and pay expensive fees for their education. Once most of the class had arrived – being late is a cultural norm here – I gave them a thirty question general knowledge quiz... the highest score was eleven. After climbing on my high horse and holding a conversation about their dismay at the lack of depth of their education – their sentiments not mine – I just kind of agreed with them – I realised that I'd planned the rest of the lesson using the wrong book. Sufficed to say I've been steering clear of the book and using my own materials because I'm not confident with the material the school provides at higher levels. Although as per usual when I'm advised wrongly or the office staff make a boo boo and provide the wrong materials – I'm the one who looks like a numpty in the classroom...

Also my business classes, who've been generally giving me positive feedback, are starting to feel as if my classes are not conversational enough. They are following a coursebook and are being examined on the contents of what they are being taught... but all of a sudden they have decided that they don't like the coursebook and merely want business conversation?! This is all news to me and hasn't come during feedback in class – which annoys me slightly – this has caused a little friction with me... I'm never negative in the classroom, actually quite the opposite, but I won't be teaching that class in three weeks, so they can get what they're given for now. I also think that it's a minority within the class – maybe one or two people - and I'm not accommodating the lazy. Surely if you undertake an intensive Business English course, you should be prepared for a challenge?! I'm not changing my entire syllabus for the next three weeks because some business professionals feel that the course they pay good money for is a little too challenging. I actually do like the class, but I hate pandering to people who don't have any idea about education and having to take advice as if it were invaluable. I may also be displaying a little arrogance here but I fail to see the benefits of a four-hour conversation class at a pre-intermediate level! So in my infinite wickedness I'm going to plan a lot of grammar work for their next class... hehehehe. Students always think they want to learn grammar for hours on end... but the reality is always different! I'm also going to plan a case study and discussion and get a few group based activities to lighten the mood towards the end of the class.

Pay day isn't too far away however and I'm looking forward to a few prospective trips that could be on the horizon... Bogor, Bandung, may be some volcanos... I also want to sort some time off so that I can visit the sea and see some orangutans in Sumatra or Borneo. Indonesia is an archipelago of wonder, it's just a shame that I'm spending my time almost exclusively in Jakarta... it's sound as a city – it has everything I could ever need – I just want to see some weirdly random stuff... although Jakarta is weirdly random... it seems like it's just an endless sprawl of kampungs and rich neighbourhoods...

I feel kind of negative with some of the things that I've included in this post... but I don't feel paticularly negative. I've just had a random couple of days and need to clear my head of a few thoughts before I go to bed. On the upside, Tuna is coming back to Jakarta this weekend. He's been kissing lots of girls and making illegitimate babies in Sumatra... haven't you Tuna?! He knows it's true! Peace...

P.S. I managed to upset a seven year old... we were playing chinese whispers and I told them to say "Jason kisses girls"... he ran out of the room and wouldn't come back in... another successful lesson!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

City Tour

This week has been really cool. Everything has gone really well and I didn't even have a bad day. Teaching is getting more comfortable and I have yet another new business class. They are really nice and there is a girl in there that has constant giggling fits, and she makes me laugh a lot in class, which is a really nice thing. English First Puri hasn't done anything to annoy me this week... which is also nice. I split my trousers chasing 'the kid that gets his willy out' around the classroom – he wouldn't sit down when we were watching a video – but it was okay... I had to go home and change my trousers though, and I hadn't even messed my pants!

Friday was cool and was a little random. I had a few beers as one of my colleagues is leaving and flying back to the U.S. Soon. One of the guys cooked some stuff for us all and we had a crack. Alex and Michael (the guy who cooked) decided to dress up in Kate's dresses... that was when I took my absence. We have also had a new teacher arrive to replace Kate and she is really cool. I mentioned her in my last post, her name is Candice, she's sound. She's not living with us, so unfortunately I cannot subject her to my pants poses :(, nevermind...

Saturday was one of the best days I've had in Indonesia... I started work at 9am and was tired as I'd been working all week. The class are really eager to learn, seeing as it's a business class, and they also fed me. That's probably why I like them ;) We went to the local Japanese restaurant near work... I was really chuffed with that, not so much because they paid for it, but also because I managed to eat sushi, with chopsticks, and not spill any down myself! Yesss!... I also went on a city tour with my boss Luke, his girlfriend Yovita and Candice. We took a lot of photos; saw a lot of random stuff; sat in traffic, and ate out... again! ;) I like eating and I'm starting to get used to the food here.

Today was another cool day, I did nothing but drink beer by the pool and then chill out with the other teachers back at the house. I also spoke to my mum for a little while on Facebook and managed to get a text message to her to say happy Mother's Day...

Monday, 8 March 2010

Tuna, 'The kid who gets his willy out' and the adventures of EF Puri!

Alex, aka 'Tuna', visited this weekend and we got drunk. We went to Jalan Jaksa, a street of seedy boozers, and then to Mentang – which is a bit nicer. We consumed lots of Bintang and caught up with a lot of stuff – as I haven't seen him since 2008! Not much else to say really, we were really hungover yesterday and he's off to Sumatra for 3 weeks. I'm quite jealous... because Sumatra is awesome and Jakarta smells... Sumatra probably smells pretty bad too, but I don't work or live there! It's also really pretty and has orangutans...

Work today was a little random.We had a powercut until about 4pm. That was a pain in the arse. My schedule has changed again and I'm now teaching the naughtiest class in the school. I was warned by my colleague and my Director of Studies about one of the children in particular... sufficed to say, around EF Puri he is known as 'The kid that gets his willy out'... I actually found him okay to teach, he's possibly not my favourite person in the world, but he didn't strike me as the mentalist he's been described as. I found the disorganisation of the administration staff downstairs more of a hindrance and annoyance. They failed to let me know that my students hadn't received their coursebooks yet! So I planned an 80 minute lesson only to discover that my students wouldn't know what I was talking about for the first twenty-five minutes until their books arrived, so I just had them draw pictures of their schools until I could start teaching.

I'm also teaching a new business class as well. They are really nice and a lot more punctual than my previous class – so far! Although they haven't been given their books either... so that was annoying to discover, although to their credit they did let me know beforehand , at 7.25pm – the lesson starts at 7.30pm! They had known all day. Nevermind, I made some photocopies and got on with it. It was a tough day today as there was no power to use to make or use any extra electronic resources when we were planning our lessons.

Despite all the negativity here, I am actually  really enjoying the teaching here, it's just that Indonesia is generally a very disorganised place, and my workplace follows that trend. Which is quite frustrating. As generally I need to be organised, and the working style here often prevents that. I'm hopefully going to be receiving a city tour this weekend and seeing a bit more of Jakarta, as there is plenty that I am totally oblivious to. I also have a new colleague and flatmate arriving on Wednesday, so hopefully that will be interesting. I hope you don't mind me sitting around the house in my pants Candice, it's hot here and I kind of like doing that... She reads this I think, so I thought I'd big her up ;)... She has been in touch via facebook, I'm not some kind of internet stalker or anything! I promise... ;)

Good luck in Sumatra Tuna, I'll see you in 3 weeks!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Tuna's coming to town!

It's generally been a quiet week here. Nothing much has happened really. It's been raining a little bit here and there - it actually is right now - but when people start talking about the weather, it can only indicate to a lack of a real conversational topic. Luckily, my friend Alex - otherwise known as Tuna - is coming over from Malaysia tomorrow afternoon. I'm quite excited and it should be good fun.

There have been a few little subtleties here and there this week that have made me chuckle, but nothing really that has affected me. I'll share my favourite one. One of my colleagues teaches a high-level class that are around the age of nine or ten. The students usually turn up early and are in the classroom messing about for about ten minutes beforehand. We have a computer in every classroom and the students - as with any school - have found a way of hacking the teachers' password. So sometimes you walk into a lesson and they are on the internet or something. Anyway, my colleague walked in to find a nine year old boy watching porn on redtube (a free pornsite for the more innocent of you); a slight melee has ensued with parents of other children complaining, and the boss is having to deal with some angry mothers... What do they expect though? Admittedly he is a tad young, but we all do silly things to impress our mates when we are children.