Yahoo, the mid-terms are marked - and there were no major disasters! Phew! I noticed that the students really get quite worked up at mid-terms time. People start to worry a lot, and they get nervous and stressed out. I feel kind of bad putting my students through this. The funny thing is that when I was a student, I never felt nervous during exams. I guess I just kind of accepted them. In the EAP program, when I first started noticing how worked up students get over the exams I started trying to think of ways to lower the stress. The way I thought I could do that was by being as explicit as possible about what is required for the exams. I really wanted the students to feel that there was a method to the mid-terms and they way that the exams are marked, rather than feeling like they (the students) are being buffeted about by forces beyond their control. What I mean is, too often, it seems like the students felt that the process of being evaluated on the mid-terms is random and arbitrary, when actually, we try to reduce the abitrary nature of the grading as much as possible through rubrics and collaboration between the teachers. At least, that is how it is supposed to work in theory. Anyway, the mid-terms are over now, and there is only half a semester left. I guess mid-terms are going to be stressful no matter what we do. I guess part of the problem is the nature of EAP itself. When I was teaching ESL, there were really no consequences. If the students weren't able to write an essay in English, it never really was a big deal, as long as we had lots of fun during the process of learning how to write an essay. But now, here in the EAP program, the consequences are really high. I mean, if the students don't pass, they don't get to go on into their faculties for regular studies. Also, there is the added bonus of being able to skip the effective writing exam if the students get a B+ in the writing course. Anyway, all this adds up to major consequences that you don't normally have in a regular ESL course. S I G H. I miss taking students to the zoo and having homework which involved deciding which animal was the cutest one at the zoo and drawing posters depicting just how cute it is. Now, it's all about transitions and adverbials . . .
However, one day all my students will be engineers, scientists, doctors, and teachers. I guess that's more important than picking out cute animals at the zoo . . .