The classes were held in a neighboring city. A car and driver picked me up (!?!) in the morning, drove me to the company, over an hour away, where I taught for three hours in the morning and another three hours in the afternoon, then I was driven back home. A long day, but the students were so pleasant that I never minded it. Plus it was a valuable experience for me. Plus did I mention -- a car and a driver for Pete's sake, like I'm some kind of hot shot.
We held lessons in the company board room, gathered around a large boardroom table, which was a good setting for oral English, group work, role-playing and even some silly games. In the picture, I set up two rows of paper squares and used little Minions (the cute little guys from the Despicable Me movie) as playing pieces. They move along the table as the teams answer questions correctly. I've learned to take advantage of the students' competitive streak when structuring class activities.
I was lucky to find a good Business English textbook while in Beijing. It has real, idiomatic English and covers a lot of real business topics and situations. The Chinese textbooks I've encountered are rather out-of-date with stilted dialogue. The book costs only 65 yuan ($10.60) in China; a lot more in the U.S and can also be used for self-study. To add some cultural content, I showed short video clips with famous catchphrases from the movies. I put together a power point of idioms commonly used in business, like "think outside the box," and assigned an idiom to each student and asked them to look up their idiom, then give a short speech explaining the idiom to the class. I've learned that a captain's wheel is a popular decoration for board rooms here in China, so the learners readily understood expressions like "learning the ropes" and "welcome aboard."
As a new teacher, I sometimes felt a little panicked as Saturday approached, wondering if I had put together enough material for the day. But I am slowly assembling some activities that have worked well.
Working every Saturday meant that extended travel in China wasn't possible but we did take little trips to Qingdao, Jinan and Boshan, which I've blogged about. At the end of the day, back in Zibo, I'd meet up with Ross and we would often go to the pedestrian mall for some clams and eggplant, our favorite dinner. This is when we'd sit back and say, "Wow, we're in China."