I’m writing this from the new English classroom my school finished building last month. From what I hear (might not be true), schools with native English speakers get a big subsidy from the government with which to build fancy new English classrooms.
Before walking into my room, there are big golden letters announcing “Fantastic English Land” above the automatic glass sliding door. The choice of words may sound very strange, but it’s the only part of the classroom I had input on. I think they were originally going for Wonderful English World, or something like that… The class itself is much smaller than other classrooms and has seven hexagonal desk clusters that can seat six students jammed into it. Because hexagonal tables are pretty much the least space efficient shapes, there is no spare room in the back of the class. I’ve yet to have students in here, but I’m sure it’ll be very crowded.
Along the back and left walls are custom-made posters with things like the class rules, body parts, occupations, fruits, seasons and a world map. I’m not sure what adhesive they used to stick the posters up, but air bubbles are already starting to form between the plywood backing and the plastic film posters. Also, to my great shock and disappointment, the poster with body parts has a typo, nay, a mistake (it has a few mistakes if you get technical, but this one is unacceptable). The arrow pointing at “mouth” is labeled “mouse”. Seriously. I’ve brought this up to the school many times. I’m curious to see if they’ll do anything about it. Personally, I think it’s outrageous to have a poster with such a mistake ( and other smaller mistakes, such as ambiguously pointing arrows) in an English classroom.
Along the wall with windows, there is a little bookshelf stocked with many English books. It looks really good, but the majority of the books are unusable in the classroom. The books would be a great resource if I had a reading class or if I had a small advance class that I could get to give me book reports. There are some solid books in there. Ranging from science books to Newberry Award winner to concentrated classic. There are also TOEIC books (which I’m going to see if we can lend out to kids that would otherwise not have the money to buy such books) and, for a reason I still haven’t figured out, I have a Korean cookbook. I also have a few DVD movies and the entire Magic School Bus TV show DVD collection. The blinds on the windows depict English cities. We have the Royal Guard at Buckingham palace, a stunning shot of the New York skyline with the twin towers still intact (that’s right), the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Niagara falls, Vancouver, a city incorrectly labeled as Toronto and a picture of Toronto labeled as Ottawa (unless Ottawa built a replica of the CN Tower while I was away).
In front of the class is where they spent the big bucks. Two meters from the front wall, I can count 4 monitors. I’ve got a computer console built into a metal pedestal with a touchscreen monitor, the kind of thing you’d have in university classes. You’ve got my desk with two LCD monitors (for whatever reason) and an all-in-one colour laser printer, a wired and wireless speaker system, and finally, the piece de resistance, a 73 inch DLP flatscreen tv with touchscreen attachment. Seriously. Oh, and flanking the giant tv are two tiny (1m by 1m) whiteboards.
Sometimes I just don’t understand things here. That is some serious dough they dropped to equip this classroom with material that is practically unusable. I’ve yet to have a class in this room, but I predict it’ll be super awkward and cramped. The touchscreen software isn’t quite as perfect as it should be, so my handwriting is illegible. I’d much rather write on a white board. Half the class is facing the back wall, the students won’t have much room around their chairs and half the room can’t see one of the white boards because it’s blocked by my computer console pedestal.
It’s possible that I’ll be blown away by how awesome this room is when I try it out next week, but I’d be surprised if that was the case.