Written by Zhang Xiaoyu
November 26th, 2014, after a 21hours' journey, I finally reached Miramichi，a small city in New Brunswick where I would start my teaching as the Chinese teacher by myself. The principal gave me the period before Christmas to observe other teachers' classes and get familiar with the environment. During this period, I began to know and love the small city and learn to be grateful.
The school principal Jennifer, a smart, capable, and nice lady, encouraged me to participate in various social activities in and out of the school, and actively integrate with my new colleagues. And because of her, I met Donald, Jane, John, Juxia and many other friends. In my spare time, I talked with them about China, taught them to appreciate and savor green tea and to use chopsticks. And on snow days, John and I made snowman together, and cook Chinese food. I had just learned how to make dumplings before going abroad, but to thank my friends, I spent a lot of time making dumplings for them, very tired yet very happy. And my first Christmas Day in Canada is unforgettable, my friends and I prepared gifts for each other, and shared happiness with each other, just as a Chinese saying goes “Roses given, fragrance in hand.” The winter of 2014 was special, full of love and warmth.
In 2015, with love and encouragement form my family and friends, I began the arduous challenge of teaching in Harkin Middle School, which is a bilingual school with both English and French courses. I was the first Chinese teacher in this school, and their understanding of China is very limited. As a layman in teaching Chinese as a foreign language, all that I can do is to start early and work hard. Before my teaching, I prepared the whole semester's teaching plan and adjusted it as needed.
I was given the chance to teach the top students in Grade 6,Grade 7 and Grade 8 in their social study class. My teaching plan has 2 major parts: the Chinese language class and the Chinese Culture experience class. In the Chinese language class, I teach the kids Pinyin, which is the phonetic alphabets of the Chinese characters, or simply speaking, the sound of Chinese characters. Because each Chinese character is accompanied by Pinyin, it’s a very basic and crucial part, for the students to learn. In order to help them learn Pinyin well, I compare the Chinese Pinyin with English letters in terms of the place of articulation and the manner of articulation. Sometimes, songs and nursery rhymes are used to make it easier and more interesting. Besides Pinyin, the students learn some basic and simple Chinese characters, a kind of pictorial symbols, and you are not just writing them, but more like drawing them. And, in the Chinese language class, students can also learn some simple spoken Chinese. For example, how to greet people in Chinese, how to ask and answer questions about people’s age, how to describe a person in Chinese, how to describe your room, how to distinguish the Chinese money and learn kinship terms in Chinese, and some common terms in Chinese, etc..
The Chinese culture experience class includes many parts, for example paper cut, Beijing opera masks, Chinese cuisine, Chinese tea ceremony, Chinese calligraphy, Chinese garments, and so on and so on. What’s more, I give every student a Chinese name according to the meaning and pronunciation of their English names. From this, they can learn the differences between the Chinese name and the western people’s name. With the description of my flight from China to Canada, they can learn the position of China and Canada on the world map, and the position of Shandong province, the location of some cities on China’s map, Rizhao, Qingdao, Beijing and my hometown, Tengzhou. Plus, they learn about the time difference between China and Canada. And, with the video—Wild China, they learn more about the Great Wall, Giant Panda, Kungfu, etc.. They learn how long, how huge, and how old the Great Wall is. They have a general idea of the philosophical meaning of Chinese Kungfu. In my spare time, Felisa, a student from Grade 8 in Harkin Middle School, and I designed and painted three cultural walls---the Great Wall, China’s Map and Chinese Zodiacs. The process of painting was also a process of interacting with other students, because many students stopped and asked questions about China while we were working. It was an amazing experience!
However, the most unforgettable experience was the preparation and celebration of Spring Festival. Before that, I told the students the story about Chinese Zodiacs, helped them find which animals they were, according to their birthday and let them role play the twelve animals. Knowing about the twelve animals (rat, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig) helps them understand the Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival better. And, the whole class made paper cuts, lanterns, firecrackers and pasted Spring Couplets to decorate the school and their home class. On February 19th, 2015, the theme of Harkin Middle School was about Chinese New Year. I taught my students how to make dumplings and how to use chopsticks. Having made one hundred dumplings that took me 7 hours to make, I made two hundred more dumplings together with the students. And the whole school shared them together. And the students said those dumplings were the most delicious ones they ever ate. Carrie, a teacher at HMS conducted an interview with me and my students, and made it into a video, which will be a beautiful memory of mine in the future. Jennifer let me give the New Year’s wish to the whole school through the announcement and then I played Chinese New Year’ music. That very day, almost everyone in Harkin was talking about Chinese New Year, and almost everyone greeted me “ Happy New Year!”
This is my first experience of teaching Chinese as a foreign language, my first experience of going abroad, my first experience of celebrating the Spring Festival without my family and friends, and I believe the more challenges I take, the better I’ll become!
学校校长Jennifer是我工作和生活上的核心人物，一个睿智，干练，又不乏亲和力的女士，因为她，我参加学校的各种社交活动，积极地融入新同事；生活上认识了Donald, Jane, John, Juxia，又由他们认识了更多的朋友。闲暇时我会和他们聊中国，教他们品绿茶，使筷子，在大雪天里堆雪人，做中国食品。出国前刚学会包饺子，为了感谢朋友们，从调馅，和面，擀皮，到包成品，全程独立完成，很累很幸福的过程。圣诞节和巴西小朋友们一起为房东，为朋友们挑选圣诞礼物，包装礼物，真正体会到赠人玫瑰手留余香的幸福，而得到的回赠又远远超出我的预想。2014年的冬天有些特别，我在Miramichi收获了满满的爱和温暖！
2015年，我承载着朋友和家人的爱和鼓励，开始挑战艰巨的教学任务。我所任教的学校Harkin Middle School 是一所英法双语学校，开设了很多法语沉浸式课程，这些操着双语的师生既令我佩服又让我一筹莫展，因为我是这所学校的第一个汉语老师，而他们对中国的了解几乎为零。作为对外汉语教学的门外汉，我只能笨鸟先飞，上课前做好了整个学期的计划，并随着课程进程随时调整。
然而最难忘的还是2015年忙碌的春节！春节前，通过角色扮演的方式介绍了十二生肖，孩子们的热情很高，在欢笑声中记住了十二个属相。全班齐动手剪纸，做灯笼，挂 “鞭炮”，贴春联，忙的不亦乐乎！2015年2月19号这天，Harkin中学的主题叫“中国年”！我和学生们一起包饺子过大年，孩子们排队进入烹饪教室，有条不紊地分工合作，连同我提前花了七个小时包的饺子，总共包了三百多个饺子，全校师生一起分享，孩子们称赞这是他们吃过的最好吃的饺子！Carrie 对我和孩子们进行了采访，并做成视频，若干年后这将是我和孩子们最美好的记忆！Jennifer很贴心地让我在广播里祝福全校新年快乐！当中国新年的音乐响起时，我的心情很复杂…….这天的Harkin中学，几乎所有人都在讨论中国年;几乎所有人都在跟我说:新年快乐！