Stories from China: Mafia

Don’t get too excited, this isn’t an epic tale of my clashes with the Chinese Mafia! It’s actually a teaching story – this week and in the past I’ve dedicated an entire lesson to playing the game Mafia with my students.

In case you don’t know the game, in its most basic form, every round students who are Mafia kill someone in secret, and the students have to try and guess who is the Mafia. Once they get the hang of it I add in a doctor who can secretly save someone (usually themselves), and then a sheriff who can accuse someone each round and learn from the narrator if they are the Mafia. We played it A LOT at camp, and had more roles and multiple Mafia member and conspiracies flying around the place – it’s a really fun game.

Although it’s a fun game to play, it’s also educational and useful for the students (I promise!) My senior specials are advanced enough now that they can take charge of their own games, begin to have debates and arguments (meaning that they’re thinking in English), and one game can involves 11 people and last 30 minutes! Considering that all the preparation I need to do is to bring a deck of cards with me (to assign roles), it’s such a simple and fun lesson. I can incorporate the idea of forfeits for when they speak Chinese, see their debating skills improve, and one person is the narrator and runs the game, developing their leadership skills too.

It’s also fun with the senior 1 specials. Their English isn’t as advanced as the senior 2’s, and they’re 3x as many of them, so I split them into 3 groups and let them use Chinese if they need to. My rule is: if I know what you’re saying in Chinese, you know the English! Again, the students love playing it, mainly because it’s fun and doesn’t feel like a real lesson. The first time they played it they got so involved they actually ripped my cards!! I played it yesterday with 1 class and some of the accusations flying around were hilarious! One Mafia girl managed to win by shouting (in English) that the others looked too happy/too sad and therefore they were clearly the Mafia. I was in stitches watching them realise it was her all along!

Mafia is a fun game to play with anyone, helps develop my students’ English skills, and means all I do in the lesson is referee them, make sure they don’t get too noisy, and that they use English correctly!

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Also how much does this photo look like it belongs in a brochure!

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Why I love teaching in China

Last week I lost my voice and had to teach 5 lessons still. A week later I’m still not 100% but my students are welcoming me back with open arms. Some literally: one girl flung herself on me and kissed my cheek, much to my surprise! All of the welcome backs I got had me thinking about why I love my job here, so I thought I’d write a list of reasons. This way next time I’m feeling down I can look at this list, and hopefully it’s mildly entertaining too!

  1. Most of my students like me. By this I mean they give me things with my name on, run over to say hello when they see me and even share their food. Whilst it’s always nice to be liked, it helps with classroom management too, multiple exit notes have confirmed that they don’t like it when I shout at them. Coming back from sickness this week has reminded me of this, especially when class 5 busted out a Chinese song at the start of class, all 70 of them!
  2. I’ve got my own space. Not my own office or classroom sadly, but the school pays for my apartment and utilities, which means that when I don’t feel like being around people, I can retreat into my flat and don’t have to be social.
  3. Equally however, I love that most of my friends live in the same building as me, so that if I do feel like being social it’s not too much of an effort to find someone to hang out with.
  4. My students don’t mind that I’m a weirdo. I flail in lessons, I dance, I hum and the students laugh along and start dancing too. More than one lesson has descended into chaos as I stumble over my words or my students say something unexpected that tickles me. This week in particular I’ve had the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack in my head, so mu special classes ended up whistling along with me!
  5. Food is so cheap and accessible here. Places like the Dumpling Shop and street food are visible from my window, and whilst my waistline doesn’t like it quite as much, I enjoy being able to eat out regularly.
  6. The feeling of teaching students something and have them really understand it is something I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of. Whether its hearing that my old students know the Cheese Rolling Festival, or hearing my current ones self-correct their pronunciation using the gestures I taught them, it’s an amazing feeling knowing that I’m the reason they know something.
  7. I never stop learning. I’m a little homesick for university and the environment around that, but in China every day I learn something new. I usually have to teach myself the grammar/pronunciation point I’m teaching beforehand, I complete Future Learn courses in my spare time, and I absolutely love it.
  8. I’m constantly challenged. Whether it’s finding out what word they want me to tell them through gestures (I had an epic fail with ‘status’ and ended up translating), or more often finding a more fun way to present what I want them to learn, I’m challenged teaching in China. That’s not even counting the amount I’m challenged by not taking Chinese lessons and trying to get around.
  9. Travel is so easy here. Luckily my schedule pretty much gives me a long weekend every weekend, but when the school has holidays it is so simple to hop on a train or plane and be in a different part of China. Next stop is Nanjing!
  10. Finally, I simply love teaching in China.

If you read them all well done!! Enjoy a collage of me teaching and loving China!