The schedule wasn't given out until the second week in and it says:
Monday 2 - 4:45 Speaking and Listening
Tuesday 2 - 4:45 Reading and Writing
Wednesday 2 - 4:45 Reading and Writing
Thursday 2 - 4:45 Speaking and Listening
Friday 2- 4:00 Culture
There is little to no speaking going on on Mondays and Thursdays. We read the vocabulary and go over the meanings for an hour, the teacher reads the text and then moves on to the questions. Then we look at a PPT of grammar points; some from the book and many not. Although it's advanced class there is a lot of English coming from the teacher to explain most everything. It's like a nonstop radio with 15 minute breaks each hour.
There is no book for Tuesday and Wednesday. We read nothing. We talk for two and a half hours on any given topics, again, with 15 minute breaks each hour. Felt more like a free chat class. I eventually asked if we'd at least write. My one other classmate didn't want to but we did for the last 10 minutes. I could only pray to do more in the future. Chatting is fun, but I was definitely lost on the purpose. An English explanation also accompanies each new word.
After being a teacher/tutor for years since the U.S. I know that at a certain level you describe in the target language. In a good classroom you will hear.
Student: "I'm sorry what does 'naive' mean?"
Teacher: "It describes a person that is new to everything. Not stupid. Simply doesn't understand how the world works yet."
- or -
Teacher: "Do you understand the word 'criminal'?"
Student: "I'm gonna guess someone that does 'crime'?"
If that fails, the dictionary is a student's BEST friend. You know I used to tell my students it was their foreign boy/girlfriend.
I talked to Nicole about my disappointment in the teaching styles. Their site says they have a great method but I know for a fact that this is no way to improve well. Her best answer was (and the other two times I would ask in the future) to take it up with the teachers.
The speaking class made some improvement as our suggestion to watch a movie or see a TV show for listening was agreed to. However pausing a movie every two to five minutes with breaks effectively took the whole class. Randomly selecting 成语* idioms that are popular became more of a hindrance than a help. However, we finally stopped getting 5 related vocab words for each new word in our textbook. Each chapter already contains 70-100 new words with 3-10 supplementary and at two classes per week, it was becoming crazy.
We also finally received 10 minutes per hour to write about a given topic during writing...I was trying to write well though, so I usually needed to use the break times as well. Every time the teacher kept asking, "Are you finished yet? We don't have much time."
My teachers are nice people so I won't name them, but they are definitely not teachers. I know the same is said about people that travel and teach English but some people end up actually being good at it so I'm fine with that if I know upfront. Although these people have the Chinese equivalent to a TEFL certificate, sometimes, it doesn't mean they can teach.
Culture class? 0.0 Well, it's all in English and more of an arts and crafts thing. Same teachers but definitely not detailed. More of 'Chinese people like this picture let's paint one together!' (Insert big smiles and a hand raised for a high five)
DISCLAIMER: My friend that is in the intermediate level says Wendy is an awesome teacher. She gets down to business and spends no more than 10 minutes on any day with gossip. I name her because greatness deserves praise and advertisement right?
Do you know any Chinese teachers that may not be licensed but really rock the classroom? Put their info in the comments!