Last year I did a lot of demonstration lessons in schools all over the county but this year they have mostly dried up. Until today, that is.
Today I did two lessons out at a Junior school in the town of Jingyuan.
Now the information I had before I went could best be categorized as "sketchy".
I knew the school location.
I knew the age of the students (approximately).
I knew the length of the class.
And that's about all.
So I decided to give the lesson I'd used last week in my own classes of the same length and to the same age group; a lesson on giving and getting directions, and with the vocabulary of buildings in a city.
There were just one or two things they had forgotten to mention.
The one hundred and ten students in each class, for example, packed into a classroom built for about forty. And their quite low level. And the tiny blackboard. And the way that the board wasn't magnetic so I had no way to attach my map.
Problems however can be overcome. Unable to easily walk around and check what the students were doing, unable to even get them doing anything much at all, I went into full on entertainment mode. The class loved it. Soon they were joining in, repeating everything I said or responding with the other halves of dialogues. Their level didn't matter. They were vocal and enthusiastic. That was enough to carry one lesson.
The tiny blackboard? No worries. Just restrict the new vocabulary to half a dozen words and do everything else orally.
Nowhere to put the map? Solves that with a blank wall and a large role of sellotape.
In short the two lessons went very well indeed.
After that things went on getting better. The school head took us out for any amazing lunch; a delicious mutton and potato noodle dish, a local specialty, was the main item on the menu. Then we drove off for a visit to a temple, which was fascinating. The temple was small but beautiful and the rituals interesting to watch.
On the drive back we also stopped off in one of the villages to have a little time chatting with the owners of a small shop. They gave us fresh fruit and we sat and chatted (to the extent it was possible to do so lacking a common language) while Richard demonstrated his proficiency on the piano standing in the corner.
It was an unexpected opportunity to see the real local China that we all too often miss in the city, even in a city as small as Baiyin.
Allin all another great day out. And paid for it too!