I have fully started my timetable now, and as it is my 3rd week I feel I am getting to know the students quite quickly. Pictured above are two very sweet Pre-Primary students who were more interested in a cat we spotted than doing any ballet, but that was fine by me as I am finding my first few weeks very tiring!
I have access to 5 different studios at the moment, each unique and different to any I have used before. Although some of my days feature quite a long commute, I enjoy the chance to sit and relax on the metro, and of course I am well used to long journeys on public transport as I used to commute into the RAD in Battersea from Essex everyday. Another thing that is incredibly cheap in China compared to home is the travel – a 20 minute journey from one studio to another will only cost the equivalent of about £2.50 in an unbooked taxi, and the metro costs 40p per entry no matter how far you travel. Amazing!
One of the biggest challenges I have faced with teaching is the language barrier. Of course, a lot of the schools here are international and Shanghai itself is so Westernised and cosmopolitan. However, when it comes to the really little ones, their language is hardly developed even in their first language, let alone in English. Sometimes, the parents don’t speak English at all either, so 3 year old students will turn up to a ballet lesson and not understand a single word you say. I think it’s really hard to keep a group of 3 year olds’ attention for 45 minutes in any language! A bag full of props (like in the photo above) along with several sheets of stickers are an absolute staple.
All in all, I am slowly getting more used to my weekly routine. Things are always easier once you and your students have gotten to know each other, so that they can be confident and forget about being shy or the fact that they are away from mummy for more than 10 minutes! It’s hard getting used to doing this 6 days a week, but it is all worth it. Plus there’s a Starbucks or Costa around every street corner to help get me through!