There are in total 11 Chinese language teachers in Confucius Classroom in Bendigo Senior Secondary College, including 8 VIT teachers and 3 Hanban teachers. The teachers’ teaching covers more than 20 primary and secondary schools in Bendigo as well as community classes offered to the local people. The next day after my arrival in Bendigo, I received a professional development with other newly joined members from Mr. Lin. He gave us some tips in Australian classes and also listed many challenges that we might face in our classes, then we came up with the solutions together. It did freshen my thought about Chinese teaching situation in Victoria. During the following days, Mr. Lin took me and the other new teachers to meet principals of schools that we would teach Chinese at, to get well prepared in advance with name lists of the students, their learning levels, teaching facilities and transportation, etc.
In the first week, all of the teachers worked on lesson plans. Based on students’ ages and learning experiences, curriculum were divided into different levels, including Prep-Grade 2, Grade 3- Grade 6, Grade 7 - Grade 10, Kids Community Class, Adult Beginners Community Class and Adult Advanced Community Class. Because of vastly varied learning experiences of the students, there were no any Chinese text books suitable for the whole program. Teachers were divided into groups to do lesson plans for different student levels. Each group needed to work out the topics, contents, activities and worksheets for the whole term. Every teacher took turns to present their work, discussed and revised for better outcomes. It’s the best way for the new teachers to get familiar with the teaching contents and methods, and the fruitful outcome of lesson planning made teachers well-prepared for the Chinese language classes.
I began my teaching from the second week. After the whole week’s teaching, I found that the classes in Australia are extremely different from the language classes in China. There was only one-hour lesson each week on average for each class. It’s more like focusing on keeping their interests on the language and culture and making Chinese language classes more fun. Even though it’s only one hour, it needs to be well planned with both language learning and cultural-related activities. There are a great variety of those activities, such as making Chinese handcrafts, colouring Chinese cartoon characters, watching Chinese cultural videos, and learning Chinese songs along with dancing. The students here are fond of singing Chinese songs. Students of my colleague Chunjing Zhang once showed me the Chinese songs and dances they learned last term and they could remember the rhythms and most of the lyrics. It was really amazing. They could even sing the Chinese national anthem which moved me into tears.
Besides adapting to the teaching situation, it took me a while to adapt to the life here as well. For instance, the first few days of my arrival, I didn’t know how to recharge my phone, how to take the buses, and even how to cross the streets. In China, the traffic lights turn red or green automatically, but here in Australia, you need to press a button for a green pedestrian light if you want to cross the street. What’s more, after eating lamb and beef for over a week, I started missing Chinese food and I nearly cried over my poor cooking skills. Another thing that I’ve been struggling with is that there’s no nap time after lunch. I was used to taking naps in China. I also needed to make effort to adjust my biological clock to adapt to the timetable here. However, these are not big deals as long as I accept them with an open mind and eventually I will get through and enjoy the life here.