Ken Carlston and Jacob Bender

Ken Carlston and Jacob Bender (安外的感受)


Ken and I have found that our experiences of teaching here in Anqing have been very similarso we have thus chosen to write down our paper together.  We both arrived during the sweltering heat of the summer months.  The heat seemed to swirl around us in a vortex of sweat, disorientation, and confusion.  However, we were soon enamored by the charms of this dainty lady called Anqing!  We were soon enchanted by this city of “Peace” and “Safety” along the river.  The slow moving vessels that meandered down the mighty Yangtze seemed to reflect the patient, easy-going demeanor of the local citizenry. 

      As for the Institution of learning known as the Anqing Foreign Language School, the fierce lions standing guard before it initially stood before us as twin quizzical sphinxes, which, like the one that riddled Oedipus, threatened to devour us alive if we failed to properly respond to its labyrinth of enigmas.  All this not withstanding, however, the school soon became as familiar and colorful to us as a New England Autumn, at once both dazzling yet gentle.  The “falling leaves,” so to speak, could occasionally disguise a rock or two that we would trip upon , yet overall, the experience has been a delightful romp through the foliage!

      As for the students themselves, they are an unusual delight.  We have played Virgil to their Dante, as they navigate the inferno of English grammar to come nigh to the paradiso of fluency.  Truly, cultures, nations, and languages may change, but Middle Schoolers are always the same no matter where one goes!  Sometimes they are noisy and rambunctious; other times, they are quiet and attentive.  Each day we are greeted by some new development, some new surprise, that keeps us on our toes, making each day fresh and wondrous, at what the tide will bring in today.

      We teach 23 classes a week, 21 of which are during the day time, Monday through Friday, and 2 of which are Friday evening, to primary age children, which we were frustrated to learn about only the night before we were to begin.  We only prepare 2 lessons a week, half for Grade 1 (7th graders) and half for Grade 2 (8th graders), for we see each class only once a week.  We give no homework and no grades.  The Middle School kids can at least hold simple conversations with us, and most can read and write competently.  This is a testament to the quality of instruction delivered by the native Chinese English speakers here in Anqing.  Hence, our focus has been primarily on improving their listening comprehension, speaking prowess, and pronunciation improvement. 

      The Chinese have such a unique culture and different way of thinking from Americans, that is makes each day an adventure.  Whether it be trying new and interesting foods, meeting new people and learning how to interact with them, or even just trying to speak the language and learn how they think, it is like we are little children again, even younger then our students, just trying to learn how to do everything we thought we knew how to do all over again.


                                                           Ken Carlston and Jacob Bender