9th January 2016

It’s that time of the year. Nearly the end of the Semester so I’ve been setting and marking exams. An essay for them to write with strict instructions not to nick it off the Internet for European Culture ; a Comprehension Paper for the Reading Exam and then there’s  the Spoken English Exam. My favorite. It works like this : 

I give them a choice of 12 topics. They have to pick one and talk about it for three minutes. I always give them the topics about five minutes before the exam. This is to discourage rehearsal and speech making, the weaker students always want to do this. The topics include unexciting stuff like “Spring Festival” and “My last holiday” but I do offer some more interesting topics. “My first year at university” is quite popular as is “Beer” and “Love”. 

So I got to the class early,  no matter how early I get there, there are always students who arrive before me, and I set the scene. 2 chairs and a desk. I then brief the students. This time in the middle of my talk a student arrived five minutes late. She was profusely apologetic, almost in tears and she was ON CRUTCHES ! You will not be surprised to hear that I said it didn’t matter but it gives a little insight into the authoritarian nature of how they are treated sometimes perhaps. 

I then send them all out of the class and they come in one by one. Some of what they say is funny, some is poignant. A lot of students, both boys and girls pick “Love”. They often say that they have no boyfriend or girlfriend and would like one very much. One girl told me that she loved her granny the best. When I asked why she said that she had brought her up as her parents had to go to another city to work. She saw her parents once a year at Spring Festival. A girl came in and told me she would talk about beer. She said that she sometimes drank beer with her father and she liked this very much as it was the only time that they got on. 

Anyway “Spring Festival” beckons. I’m off to Wuhan. Happy New Year to everybody who reads my ramblings. 

4 thoughts on “EXAMS”

  1. I love these insights you give us. “… They often say that they have no boyfriend or girlfriend and would like one very much …” is somehow very sad to western ears. I would imagine only a very few would be able to say this in UK Universities. Not that I’m making a value judgement. Perhaps a subject for a more in depth ethnological study?


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