Monday, May 25, 2009
The Clearwater team helped buy notebooks, pens, soccer balls, and blackboards to give to the students and for the school to use. Here some of the boys on the team are carrying the blackboards up the path to the school.
The students stand outside their school, singing and clapping to welcome us.
Our group could barely fit into their little classroom. Brian gave a little introduction and then we all sang a few songs for the kids and did an impromptu English lesson.
This girl, who I named Lucy since it sounded like her Chinese name, opened up to me a little bit although she was still pretty shy. I would have guessed her to be about 7 or 8 years old, but she told me she was 12. When I asked her how old I was she guess I was 16, so I guess we were both having trouble gauging each other's ages! :)
The girls wore their traditional Miao dresses which are brightly colored with many layers and lots of elaborate beading.
One good thing about kids is that even if you don't speak the same language, throwing and kicking balls are universally fun and doesn't require much communication.
Me with some of the boys
The kids wave goodbye to us as we leave.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
*for any one else who watched the West Wing, do you remember the episode called "Big Block of Cheese Day" where Leo invites all those bizarre interest groups and organizations who never get heard to come to the White House? Always loved that episode, especially when I watched it in China! :)
Saturday, May 16, 2009
(blog is still "harmonized," but proxy server worked well enough to let me upload the photos)
The big political campaign/buzzword in China during Hu Jin Tao's administration has been the promotion of a "harmonious society." I hear and see that phrase everywhere in China--on the news, on billboards and banners, in my students speeches. I hear that phrase so much it makes me cringe (or roll my eyes, depending on the context). Now when things get censored on the Internet, Chinese netizens say the webpage has been "harmonized." Youtube has been harmonized for several weeks now, the BBC is always harmonized, and I guess blogs are the next harmonizing stop for the Chinese censors. The reason--a rather sensitive anniversary coming up on the 4th of next month. I can't even begin to express how frustrating I feel when I become a direct "victim" of Chinese Big Brother!! Anyways, I can still sort-of access my blog if I use a proxy server; however, it's so slow that it's almost not worth it. So blog posts from me might be few and far between in the coming weeks. Or maybe blogspot will be accessible again tomorrow, who knows.
Monday, May 11, 2009
A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling
by Mark Twain
For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all. Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli. Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Anyways . . . I know it's probably in violation of some kind of Teachers' Code to laugh at or take pleasure in students' mistakes, but I either need to get a little bit of enjoyment out of this endless task or else I'll go completely nuts. So I thought I'd blog a few of the funnier things my students came up with. Bless their hearts . . . they're trying, but sometimes it just comes out funny.
In a cover letter . . . "I would like to introduce myself as a qualified applicant for the poison you are offering."
On a resume, one girl said she had a lot of "piratical" experience. I was unaware I had a former pirate in my class.
In an essay about making smoking in schools illegal . . . "Smoking should not be allowed in schools because the students ate teenagers."
In a cover letter . . . "I'm a bachelor." (He was trying to say he is pursuing a bachelor's degree. I'm sure the student has no idea that his sentence had a totally different meaning.)
On my freshman exam one question was "How can you finish a telephone conversation in English?" (Chinese people tend to be quite abrupt on the phone which is acceptable in Chinese but not so much in English) Here are a few of the answer I got--
"I'd like you to go."
"I'm glad to talk about you."
"This is all the information, thanks for listening."
On the same exam I had a section where the students had to fill in the blanks with the correct vocabulary words from their dialogues. When they chose a wrong word, it was rather humorous.
"What kind of institute do you want on your salad?"
"What kind of stink do you want on your salad?"
"Please fill out this stink form first."
I still have quite a few (more than I want to admit or think about) portfolios left to grade, so if other entertaining student quotes come up, I'll update this list.
Friday, May 1, 2009
And so today, the Chinese word "contradiction" is made up of two characters. The first one is 矛 (máo) which is the word for "spear." And the second character 盾 (dùn) which is the word for shield.
矛盾 máodùn has to be one of the most useful words I've learned in Chinese in a while, and it definitely wins the prize for Best Etymology. Obviously, I embellished the story a little, but that is (according to my Chinese teacher) the basic idea of how the word came about. Do we have any words like that in English that have come about because of some kind of historical story/fable? I can't think of any.
The entire country of China is one giant living, breathing contradiction. On a national scale, China is the most curious blend of despotic, Communistic politics and Western, capitalistic economics. Chinese toddlers are bundled up in layers and layers of clothing until they look like little walking marshmallows with heads; yet they have split-bottom pants on, leaving their little rear-ends exposed to the cold. Chinese people will push and shove to get on a bus without a second-thought for the people around them who they just elbowed; yet they'll welcome any guest into their home and put Westerners to shame with their hospitality and generosity. In China it's considered rude and dirty to touch food with your hands; however, it's common to see people picking their noses (maybe that's why they don't touch their food!). At 5 feet 5 inches, I feel like a giant compared to most of my Chinese friends; yet China can produce a 7 and a half foot NBA center. I've always thought I could write a book about China entitled "Contradictions" (or maybe a grad school paper in the future?) Now that I know the interesting history behind the word in Chinese, I'm even more interested in the topic.