I fancy myself a techno-wiz, but all I get is chalk.

This is one of my classes.

Sometimes, I think my job performance is linked to my support electronics, but I’ve been re-considering the premise this year. I don’t have much to use anyway. I also recall that old saw about how a poor workman blames  his tools, so I try not to be too critical of classroom technology that malfunctions or is non–existent.

I should behave; after all, I am more or less a guest in China – I teach English to high schoolers who are learning the language in a rough environment. I’ll talk about the Chinese education system later. I say a guest because of the visa rules that are in place here. While almost anyone can visit this country, if you want to stay around, you need to be somebody. As it works out, I have permission to be in China because I’m a foreign expert.

A foreign expert is someone who has a skill not found locally. Understand, there are plenty of people to do almost every job imaginable around here – this is China, remember, home of a billion people, most of whom are looking for a better job than they have right now.

So what makes me an expert? Well, I wish I could tell you it was my superior intelligence, my business acumen or my extensive experience managing men and machines, but alas, it is none of those. I just speak English. Yep. That’s it. I talk. I am a native English speaker. It’s my first language, L1 in the parlance, and so I have a skill that no Chinese person can match.

China thinks that a knowledge of English is a skill so valuable that they recruit us to come here and teach native pronunciation to their students.

This year, the teaching plan is a little different than last. Last year I was awash in Power Point presentations, but I lost the kids because they were only watching; they were not speaking English; they were not listening to my instructions.

This time, I’m playing with chalk on the board and words from the students. So far, it’s working. I’ll let you know.