Owen Language College

The school that we are teaching at is called Owen Language College. It is owned by Owen Buckland but is run by a hilarious couple called Bobby and Bing. Most of the students age from around 18 to 30 years old and they travel to Yangshuo to study English full time. Some come for only a few weeks, others stay for many months. All the students and the teachers live in dormitory style rooms behind the school, and everyone eats together in the school canteen. The school is run in a small four story building with a dining room on the bottom floor, and offices and classrooms on the rest. Classes run Monday to Friday from 9 to mid-day and then start again from 2.40pm to 4.30pm. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings English Corner is held. This is an opportunity for students to converse with teachers in a social setting. There are also organized weekend excursions every second weekend. Chinese is not allowed to be spoken in the class rooms or the canteen which creates a little English oasis within the school.

Currently there are four class levels; level one is beginners and level four is advanced. Student levels are low at the moment and each class only has around 3-6 students. The level four students are very fluent and are able to hold a good conversation and we have been spending at lot of time getting to know these students. On our first night at the school we went out with around 10 students and some other teachers. We had a great night chatting with them. It's such a fantastic opportunity to make some great Chinese friends and something that we hadn't anticipated before arriving. Outside class hours, students and teachers hang around the cafeteria. There is a table tennis table out the front and we have been embarrassing ourselves most lunch times. Chinese checkers is a favourite amongst the students and we quickly became regular players.

The school's student numbers at the moment are unexpectedly low and after we turned up there were almost as many teachers as there were students! Because of this, we found ourselves being offered 10 lessons each per week whereas we had been contracted to teach 20 – 25 lessons. After speaking with the owner we ended up being “guaranteed” full time work after two weeks. The prospect of more hours free to enjoy the lovely town appealed to us and so we accepted the amended offer. We figured that two weeks of part time work would ease us into the teaching.

We were assigned levels three and four and before we knew it, we were teaching our first classes. These were a little daunting even though the classes are small. We needed to do quite a lot of preparation to make sure the classes are educational and enjoyable for the students. This can be difficult as the resources available to us are extremely limited, and the computer situation made Marty weep! The computers come from the last millennium, are set up in Chinese and the internet connection is unmentionable!

The students generally have a surprisingly large vocabulary and a very good knowledge of English grammar rules, but their pronunciation and listening skills are where most tuition is required. After a few days we became more confident and started to enjoy lessons more.

Here are some of the students and other teachers at the school:

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