zcat_abroad: (reading)
I keep meaning to say how pretty autumn is this year (that's fall, for you good folks in the US of A). We don't see much of the leaf-colour thing around our house, 'cos it's all natives (which all seem to be evergreen) but on the drive in and out of Laingholm there are some beautiful patches of oak, maple and other pretty British trees. The very cold snap we had at the beginning of the month has created a great show. The rain has been nice to hear, and the sunny days very blue, but with a bite of cold in the shadows. And there are leaves to scuffle in on Symonds St.

Birds, Cat, Mice, and Students )

Work, for the night is coming. Actually, the night is here, so I'm off to bed now. Gym and tutorials tomorrow, not necessarily in that order.
zcat_abroad: (universe)
So, tomorrow all my students sit their exam. I am possibly more nervous for them than they are. At least, I'm nervous for some of them - others are not a worry. But there are others who have tried hard, and Old English still doesn't make any sense to them.

And for those who haven't even tried, I will feel great justification in failing them if they fail. There is no excuse. We gave warnings at the beginning of term, that this wasn't one of your easy, read-the-text-and-come-to-the-exam English papers. This is a language paper, which requires time and effort, even though the language is dead and gone.

That's one of the problems for those to whom it don't make sense - many people don't understand about learning a language. It's not something which has one solution, either. People learn languages differently.

Part of the thing which is worrying me, however, is that certain people haven't come for help, or emailed me. I'm not planning to be in my office over lunchtime tomorrow - because it's my niece's first birthday, and I plan to celebrate that. By lunchtime, it would be too late to do much good, wouldn't it? I don't know. I've tried to be helpful, but I don't know how well I've done with this batch.

Ah, well, out of my control now. So we'll go and watch the US mid-terms with the Woverines, and not be too hopeful.
zcat_abroad: (Default)
And so the holiday disappeared, and I haven't managed to do half of what I intended.

No, I wrong myself. I almost got the chapter finished - but needed to get to the library to chase some things up. Unfortunately, with now living a long way out of town, and only going in when I have classes (either as student or teacher), it makes it kinda hard to get library time.

But there was success today - I paid off $56.85 in fines - for interlibrary loans, not overdue books! - and found the answers to some of the questions. Such as where on earth I found out about a certain unedited manuscript lodged in Oxford's Corpus Christi College - and so what sort of date I can assign to the document (15th century).

Tomorrow I'm going in to Uni to play with a course on Paleography, which hopfully will result in me being able to describe such a manuscript myself, without having to go looking for what the experts say. Who knows - I might find out something amazing about some old manuscript that no-one ever noticed before - it's cutting edge research! Though probably not with the photocopy versions I get sent to me.

'Twas a strange thing, but this was the first time I did not feel it was a shame that there were students on the campus again. Instead, there was a kind of excitement, and a realisation that this is what university is all about - informing, filling empty young minds. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that there are 58 people enrolled in Old English this semester. There might not be tomorrow, after the first lecture and tutorial. One girl left half-way through tutorial, and we do try to scare people into withdrawing in the first 2 weeks - otherwise they upset our statistics at the end of term - fails and DNSs. But it's definitely a good start.

Now there's enough time for me to start on the next level of WarcraftIII, followed by watching House, and going directly to bed. Too tired to see much more of today.


May. 25th, 2006 02:04 pm
zcat_abroad: (universe)
I had managed to avoid the pain of marking that [livejournal.com profile] theunshaven has been describing: the first lot of essays I looked at were good. Now that leaves the dross.

"Conformingly a performer, who has the ability to
adapt many roles, the role of confidence and
dominance, is initially embarked upon."

I don't have a clue what that means, or what it was meant to say. And there are others. One, yesterday, had me laughing out loud - he gets a higher mark than he deserves, for having an interesting essay.

I have been kind. I have handed out extensions left, right and centre. I have offered to read drafts (which I hate doing). I have asked certain people to come and talk with me. I have even allowed people an amnesty to hand in their bibliography.

Soon I will lose all patience. Then there shall be PAIN!! (because I want to return it), SMITING!! and people may get their feelings hurt.

A Warning.
zcat_abroad: (evil)
Some of this is taken from my reply to [livejournal.com profile] theunshaven's cry of pain - with further details:

In an attempt to combat the pain of marking, there was a full explanation on the second side of the assignment sheet, all about how to hand it in: font size, spacing etc (which are important when marking 40+ essays). I even went through everything in tutorial, because I knew most were incapable of turning the paper over by themselves.

The number of people not following this, thereby making my eyes go cross (in both ways), and no room for me to write snipy comments, was TOO many.

Then I explained that I was fussy about things like sentence structure. And zcatcurious came in and gave 2 hours of punctuation classes, which everyone said they wanted, and yes, the time picked was okay - and then only 3 people turned up.

So [livejournal.com profile] zcatcurious had wasted hours in planning - trying to fit what is possibly a year's worth of learning into 2 hours.

There were many people who should have attended. The abuse of the comma, the rape of the apostrophe, and other bad things happening to sentences, could all then have been avoided.

And then there is the problem of answering the question. In a close analysis, the main point is that you analyse, closely, the passage given. This is apparently too hard, or too confusing.

I don't know what went wrong here. The number of people who did a great comparison of the section they should have analysed with other parts in the Canterbury Tales - but barely touched the section they should have - is beyond a joke. Where did I go wrong? The assignment sheet states "Choose ONE of the following passages and write a detailed analysis of it". What more do you want?

I would like to burn all the essays, and start again. Or possibly the students.

zcat_abroad: (Bede)
...there is no end, and too much study wearies the soul. Proverbs 12:12.

Yn Whiche one ys maad to feyl a ryht foole )

Students have been stressing this week, due to their first assignment being due today. Not feeling terribly sorry for them, as I've been trying to get them to work on it ahead of time. Then there are the people who have come to one lecture (during which the person spent the whole hour whispering to a friend xhe had brought), not attended any tutorials, emailed me asking for times I was free, and never showed up to any of the times I indicated. REALLY not sorry.

Am I horrible person?
zcat_abroad: (Default)
Well, I'm mostly posting to show off my cool new icon - thanks to [livejournal.com profile] theunshaven for pointing me to [livejournal.com profile] ghengis, where I got it from.

Time has gone fast. The best bit of the holiday period was having a holiday - see [livejournal.com profile] zcatcurious's post. Once having recovered from nasty bug, I went back to uni. There is no rest for the wicked or the PhD student.

So I have been battling with a conference paper, to be given on the weekend. The first draft sounded like a coffee break-conversation in a factory, said [livejournal.com profile] zcatcurious. My supervisor had apparently not wanted to sound quite so critical, but was glad zcc had brought it up. So now you see me, having written a much more formal account, and still feeling very fuzzy about the conclusion, trying to waste time 'til I can pick him up at 5pm.

I've taken up going to the gym, 'cos they had a good special on ($80 for 8 weeks at the YMCA) and I tend to eat when trying to study. Last week I went every day, 3 times for the exercise, and twice for the pool. It is the pool that made me sign up at the Y rather than here at Uni - I use it as a treat.

I have more tutoring this semster, for a paper I never took, 'cos it either didn't exist at the time, or I thought I didn't want more Chaucer. So I have a few Middle English texts to read, which shouldn't take long.

More worrying is the fact that somehow, by the end of the semester, I have to have earned a B+ or higher in Anglo-Norman (Old French with a twist), in a paper which doesn't actually have any marking schedule, 'cos it's been made up specially for me. I did NOT spend enough time on it last semester, and somehow need to LEARN the thing now.

And not forget Latin at the same time.

My brain hurts.

Bored Now

Apr. 8th, 2005 08:53 am
zcat_abroad: (Default)
So I'm sitting in my office, currently occupied by no-one but me. I have enough work to keep me busy for approximately 10 mins today. The sun is shining in through the window, (and onto my computer screen, making it impossible to read) and I really want to go and watch Rally NZ. I know you get a better view on the TV, but I want to be outside, in the sun (which I know is poison), sitting on the grass, watching fast cars go by.

I'm bored. This wonderful company decided to keep me on once the 90 Thai teachers had left, so now I'm officially looking after 13 Thai teachers, whose agent is doing all the work. I'm trying to use my free time to study, but it does keep getting interupted. One more week of this, and then I'll be unemployed, and happy! Then I can go and immerse myself in the library, and really get down to study.
zcat_abroad: (Default)
I'm dealing with a group of Thai teachers. They are going to Rotorua next weekend. So I wrote a letter to the families that are hosting them, letting them know about the arrangements.

There has been one direct complaint, and the complainant said that three other families are not happy with the letter. Apparently it demanded that the families drop the teachers off on Saturday morning and pick them up on Sunday evening. And give them a packed lunch.

So, is it demanding and rude?


This on the understanding that:
a: the families are getting paid for having the teachers there. Even when they're away for the weekend.
b: the homestay arrangement means that the families are supposed to supply all weekend meals. It's part of the arrangement.
c:it's a tour group. Usually this involves pick-up and drop-off on weekends through-out the stay. This is the only one that has been requested for this group.

I acknowledge that it should have started differently. This letter was first used for a group on the 5th of March (and yes, the dates were changed on the one sent out), and all the families already knew about the trip and were ringing me up wanting to know what time they should be dropping people off (offering to do this!!). So, yes, it does open rather informally. But is it rude and demanding?
zcat_abroad: (palm)
And I finally get a chance to update. In fact, a month tomorrow. It's been mostly all good. SOOOOOO nice to be able to breathe the air!! I keep taking deep breaths of honey-scented air, and not being able to believe my luck at being the citizen of such a beautiful country.

I'm now working back at my old school (where I've been working, on and off, for just over 5 years, now!). I'm running around trying to keep a group of Thai teachers happy, and not having to teach! (Joy, joy!) This is temporary, until I start my PhD in the second half of this year.

It's been good to see family, and great to catch up with friends (though there are some I'm having difficulty finding). I guess we haven't been away for so long, but it felt like YEARS to us.

We recieved a computer on the weekend (price: one case of beer, p.k.f. [livejournal.com profile] zcatcurious's brother, followed by a computer table (price: yet to be decided, p.k.f. [livejournal.com profile] doc_spatial, indirectly, via. [livejournal.com profile] poing_critter). So now I can start research to enable me to start research later.

On a final useless note, no, I am not going to change my user name. For two reasons. The first is that, as was pointed out to me, I am still "zcat, a broad". I hadn't thought of that when I chose my name - I was only thinking of the one word version - but it works! The second is that, while I'm back here in NZ, I'm still not home, and even if I were to go to Phuket, I wouldn't really be home, because I am NOT Thai (despite my trouble in speaking English around these Thai teachers), and so will always stick out like a sore thumb. So I have decided that I am permanently abroad, and am happy there.

(And in other news, I know the Tsunami thing is old news, but there is on-going work there. For continued updates from Thailand - see my web-page on www.geocities.com/zcatcurious/Rawai.html It will be updated again sometime this week.)
zcat_abroad: (Default)
This in response to a the question: Given that pollution in China kills tens of millions of people, and costs 7 to 10% of the GDP every year, what should be done about it?

As everyone known, China is one of the largest country in the world. There are a lot of people in china. Everyone think China is a very strong country, and the people in this country are much richer than the other people who lives in some other country. That's right. But the pollution in china is not little.

In China, the pollution kills about tens of millions of people every year. For example, There are a lot of people in some places, who is ill or dead. Because they drink unclear water. The water is polluted by some people. So the other people who drink it are ill, and some of them are dead. So something we eat is very easy to be polluted. But most of us don't know about it. Some people will pollution them for money.

The pollution in China is very serious. But most of us don't know about it. they think the China is large and rich. If this place is be polluted, they can come to another place to live. The most important thing is the money which they cat owe. So the pollution in china is more and more serious.

But new, people know about it. They don't pollute and stop other people polluting. So I belive the pollution in china will become less and less.


Anyone wonder why I'm going crazy? This is a good one. I don't think I could type some of the bad ones. In a page and a half, some have managed over 75 mistakes!!
zcat_abroad: (Default)
It snowed last night. Not very much, and not for very long, but it snowed. This caused a bit of a flurry and a large interuption in the practice of R&J Act4&5, but then it was back to business.

Yes, the play is coming along. There were minor problems at the beginning, when it looked like we were going to have to do Romeo & Juliet without either of the title characters, but all that is now solved. Romeo is now being played by Benvolio, Benvolio by Balthasar, and Balthasar by Peter (who I have now written out of the play). And Juliet got over her nerves, and is working on acting. Problems now faced are things like costuming and props, and how much money is to be spent on them. Turns out they want a really professional production, but with no money spent, 'cos there aren't going to be any tickets sold. Seems a bit strange to us capitalists, but we have been promised some money now.

When I say 'we', I am, of course, not including [livejournal.com profile] zcatcurious (who is officially *not* helping) but rather Sharon, the Philippina teacher, and myself. Joanna, the French teacher, is going to help with the art work, I think (note to self: tell J she's helping with art), and [livejournal.com profile] zcatcurious is proving very useful in advising me what to do next, while carefully not helping. I think the play, in it's new stir-fry version, will end up being about an hour long.

In other news, we (this one's [livejournal.com profile] zcatcurious and I) gave the students a test this last week. It was the most disheartening thing I've done. After writing on the board "No copying" (we had to write that!?!), there were still at least 2 pairs in every class caught cheating during the exam (and got 0 straight away), and more found in the marking. The worst example was of students who wrote the correct answer, checked their partner's, and then crossed out their answer and filled in what their partner had written, complete with spelling mistakes. The stupidity of it is appalling! And while marking tests is no fun, it's made even worse when you realise that the wrong answers you have now are identical to the ones you just marked, and the question of who copied off whom is impossible to answer.

So, we have had a rather grumpy week of it.

Still no new news on the job front - the guy with the job in Pusan has not officially been requested to find people for there, and while Korea looks better than here, it does not look much better. We would love to be coming home next year, but the job market in NZ is no better, and the NZ dollar is still ridiculously strong. Please inform Dr. Cullen to do something about this.

Well, guess I'd better go and give the next class their marks from the test. I already yelled at this class, so I don't have to today. Sick and tired of being angry, and depressed. Not sure if we've made any difference in the majority of the students. But there are the brighter sparks, and I think R&J is going to be great, if we can stop Capulet laughing when he's trying to be all weepy over Juliet's death.
zcat_abroad: (Default)
so I'll murder one of the Bard's other plays. More on that later.

Well, it's been a while since I last updated - because my computer time was severely eaten into. Following the hoopla, and other disturbing things;
(we were ordered by the Powers-that-be to sing, we protested,
they insisted, we sang (Amazing Grace - more as a protest than
anything else), the world did not collapse in on us, more's
the pity, 'cos now our students keep asking us to sing!)

we decided to buy a DVD player so as to watch all the BUFFY we had bought while on holiday. This proved to be a good way to wind down after more frustrations in and around the classroom. However, it also means that we watched 2 and 1/2 seasons in about 3 weeks. Which led to there not being much time on the computer.

And my next project shall also disturb my few hours of free time(and has already). I and one other foreign teacher here, have determined to stage a Shakespeare play, using members of the English department. This we will do together with [livejournal.com profile] zcatcurious (if I can get him to forgive me for wearing his coat, again, now), and in spite of, once again, the helpful (?!?) ministrations of our local, pet demon, and other things. Already there has been a great mix-up, and we haven't even begun auditions yet!! They start today, and we have at least 80 people who have written their names down. I will scare some off, by emphasising hard work and commitment. Also plan to rope many in to work on things like sets, props, and lighting.

In the mean time, I have been severely editing the great Bard's most famous tradgedy, in the hopes of making is short enough to be possible. Rather afraid that at some time a Power will show up and say it has to be 5 minutes long. I think we'll manage to make it about an hour. Yes, we are cutting some of the classic lines, but we're working on preserving the story, and ensuring the students understand it. Gave them about 18 lines from the Friar's speech to Romeo, once he's killed Tybalt, to learn. Now have to decide whether I go through and change thou, thee and thy, or if we just teach the whole English department the meanings. Not sure which will be quicker, but as far as learning English goes, it's better for them to know the meaning.

So still haven't re-written my Great China Trip. Will do so, but might back-date it, so if you're interested, look for it about a week ago.

One Week

Sep. 8th, 2004 08:35 am
zcat_abroad: (palm)
Right, we've been 'home' for one week, and this is the first time I get to update. Two things are to blame - my timing, and the internet connection, and they work off each other. I tend to want to write in the evening, which is when everyone else on campus is on the computer, thus making it incredibly slow, and sometimes impossible, to reach LJ - or Yahoo. In fact I'm left browsing through the Herald, which is the only way I can convince myself that NZ hasn't fallen off the edge of the world.

I've finally discovered IM, thanks to Yahoo. Yeah, I know it's been around for ages, but I'd never got into it, until one day in Jinan, I was emailing Dad, and he was replying, and it was working like text messaging and then *he* suggested I try Messenger. And it worked like a charm. The only problem was - it was all in Chinese, except for the bit I was typing. So I think I snubbed Debxena by accident, because something popped up with her name on, I pressed a button at random (no, actually I was trying to make a guess as to which button would add her to my friends list) and she disappeared. I've felt bad ever since, but now I've made a public confession, perhaps everything will be better.

New term, new classes
Teaching this term has two parts - the fun and the down-right boring. The fun is AV - listening while watching videos (or, as is more often the case, VCDs and DVDs). However, being responsible teachers, Greg and I are NOT going to just sit down and watch a movie every week. (Grrrr Arrrgghhh to responsibility!). No, nor are we going to teach Buffy - having decided that the vocab is too high, not always useful (how often, outside of discussing Buffy, does one talk about vampires, werwolves, demons, and dusting people? unless you're a member of thehorde?)and the grammar is just plain wrong - being not only American (now to see if anyone American is reading this), but also of the Buffy-verse. We are, however, going to show one of my other favourite movies, in little bits. 10 minute segments of 10 Things I Hate About You, with lots of work on vocab on both sides of it. Guess I should start preparing the lesson. When I have finally finished here.

The down-right boring part of teaching is writing. How do you teach writing to a class of 40? If you make them all write something, you have 40 things to mark, times 5 classes. That's (correct me if I'm wrong - there is a reason I teach English) 200 pieces of writing. I could underline all the mistakes, and get them to correct themselves, but then I'd have to check again, to make sure they got the point.
I like writing (more below), but I'm not that strong on grammar, and that's mainly what these students need. The "I don't know why that's wrong, but it is, it should be this" argument doesn't go down so well with university students, many of whom are planning to become teachers themselves one day.

On the subject of writing.
I have finally managed to get a start on the story that has been simmering in my brain for the past year or so. I had been putting it off, on the grounds that I needed to do more research, that I didn't know enough about the time and place. It's a historical novel, you see, and set a lot earlier than the books I normally read. I have read a few more set in a similar time, but am determined to get my facts straight, not rely on what I've read in stories. And at the moment it's rather hard to get my paws on books about medieval England and France. The internet is my only hope - there must be something I can find in here. So Wednesday mornings, being the time I don't have a class, while Greg does, will be devoted to research and writing.

Then there is also my work for my PhD. I won't officially start it until 2006, but I already have the document I'm going to be working on, and have started transcribing it. I just have to hope that between now and then, noone else starts to edit the same manuscript. It's MINE! As I'm planning to have kids while doing my PhD, the more I can get done first, the better.

So , having spent a long time here, I'd better go and do some work before the other half gets back.
zcat_abroad: (Default)
Some 31 (of 200) students having failed the writing exam, one of those who did not fail begged us to give the others a second chance. So we did. 15 passed, 2 never showed up, and 1 cheated. Afterwards, one of those who had failed twice came to see us, asking for yet another chance.

The resit was allowed because it was one of our friends who asked for it, and because she was not asking for herself. The second resit was declined, in part because it was a self-interested request and in part because I was seething about the cheater(*).

There was another factor, however, and I realised this when I was refusing the request. Some students must fail. This is simply because of the fact that the value of the final degree depends upon the difficulty of obtaining such a degree.

If anyone can do it, then nothing is proven by the mere fact that you have done it. The degree is worthless. In China, gaining admission to a university is extremely difficult. Passing the degree, on the other hand, is easy. This is why so many Chinese go to NZ et al. to go to university; they want degrees that people in other countries will care about.

(*): the cheater. They all look the same to us, right? Anyway, so thought one of those who failed the first test. We saw in the exam room someone we had never seen before, so we thought to compare handwriting samples with the first test. This guy's didn't match. When we talked to the head teacher of that class, we found out that the name actually belonged to a girl (some Chinese names are not gender-specific). The student was subsequently caught cheating in another exam and will be expelled. For some reason, that gives me a warm, tingly feeling.
zcat_abroad: (Default)
Well, actually, it's only exams, and I'm not even sitting them. I'm on the other end of the problem, and it's still hard. I have 320 students to give oral English exams to (and no rude comments, please!).

However, having managed to farm out one lower-level class to my other half, I have now persuaded him that he will conduct the exams for all three lower class. So really I only have to listen to 200 students mangle the English language.

The first class (of 42 students) went remarkably well. But I hate being the examiner. I hate sitting in judgement on the students, and resisting helping them finish the sentences. Perhaps I'm not really cut out to be a teacher.

I bought a bead curtain this weekend. I think that Whitsunday will be envious, it's very pretty. And I watched them make it up. The fun of communicating without speaking! Having found the colour of beads I wanted, I then listened in bemusement to the questions of the stall holder. Figured out he wanted the dimensions of the door, so I indicated - this high by about this wide. And it was done. Was rather nervous about the price - not quite being able to understand his answer to my question. It looked like he would charge by the string. Turned out they weighed it - just a bit over 5.5kgs. Came to 80 yuen, or about $20NZ. Not bad for a very pretty curtain, now blocking the view from the girl's dorm, through our kitchen, and into our bedroom. Means that we can have the air con (in the living room) on, not too many clothes, and the door open.

Hmm, they don't have a mood icon for 'vindictive teacher inflicting pain and suffering in the form of exams'. I wonder what a pensive hamster looks like?


zcat_abroad: (Default)

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