Connecting Mandarin and English,
We've Experienced the Basic Chinese Lessons -
Now on to the Advanced
(September 25, 2008) (return
been through the lessons on hot weather in China, the one on riding the
bus, shopping and drinking all night. We learned about the Intenet wilderness
and getting too many scoops of rice at the canteen. We thought we were ready
to graduate from the Chinese version of the "School of Hard Knocks"
when we were promoted to the next level of surprises.
On our walk back from class yesterday, I revealed
to Gail that a Chinese instructor had been introduced to me because this
instructor was writing a book, I believe for English speaking children,
on how to pronounce Chinese pinyin. She needed an editor who understood
English. I said yes. Gail then "fessed up" that a student had
talked to her about translating some English into Chinese for a Chinese
instructor and the student didn't understand all the English. Yep, Gail
volunteered to help explain the English so the student could write it in
Earlier in the day, actually first thing in
the morning, our daughter Skyped us wanting to talk. Then our second American-Chinese
daughter called us on the phone to talk about some fouled up paperwork for
working in America. About noon our neighbor across the hallway, probably
our third daughter of the day, came by wanting to print her 11-page lesson
plan. Sure, why not? But beware, the printer typically works about once
out of seven tries. We never got to that point--her document was on MicroSoft
Works and no one has that word processor, at least we don't on our three
computers. About the same time daughter number four, the new American teacher
from North Carolina, who parents are Chinese immigrants, making her visually
a native Chinese who speaks no Chinese to the surprise of the locals, came
by with her own list of issues.
The evening was grand as we sat on the curb
talking to students who wandered by, fielding questions like "Why do
you have a beard?" to comments about divorced relatives and whether
one or the other is the bad person. We come away from those conversations
totally exhausted and exhilarated. (I think that is a combination of two
figures of speak: an alliteration and an oxymoron; I think I'm learning
As we were about to wrap thing up for the
day, daughters four and three came pounding on the door hoping that daughter
number four could Skype her mother. (Her promised computer is not scheduled
to arrive until.., well, we don't know when.) to wire some money. (She lost
her bank card before she got here.) After a couple hours of experiencing
and working on a snail-paced Internet, the task was accomplished.
No, the story is not over. As we were working
on Skype I noticed the wind picking up and about the time the final "Good-bye"
was blasted over Skype, the skies lit up with a bolt of lighning. A quick
trip to the balcony revealed sheets of rains were tumbling down the street.
Cyclists were scrambling for cover and as the frequency and intensity of
the storm increased, the girls decided to make themselves at home in their
parents' home. That would be our place. About that time as the thunder came
directly after the lightning strikes, we discussed power outages and, lo
and behold, the boys' dorm across the way was dark. No problem, we had power,
but let's locate the flashlights. And it was a good thing because we were
next. This prompted the statement, "There's no way I'm going back to
Later, after the eye of the storm had moved
on, not knowing the time, we said we were going to bed but they could stay
as long as the wanted. Being intellect college graduate, they recognized
a hint when it was presented and politely went to share their terror in
one of their apartments. It was 1:00AM. I suspect it was a couple hours
later when the lights came on and woke us.
This morning we fired up the computer and
returned to normal, Chinese version. In the middle of a Skype conversation
with Weiwei, the air conditioner went off. Oops, so did the computer and
the lights and everything. It wasn't long before power was restored again,
only to disappear moments later. Gail's little jaunt downstairs revealed
that we are out for the long haul; no AC, our lifeline to survival and not
even fans in the classrooms which never see AC. In Alaska in the remote
wildreness I know how to handle this. Thus, they advanced lesson on living
in China. I hope we pass this examination.
A note about English
Help! Which is correct
"The Olympic Games is..." or "The Olympic Games are..."?
Careful now, it is almost a trick question!
"The Olympic Games was a grand event in Beijing this year."
"The Olympic Games consist of many different competitions."
"The student was asked to turn in (his)(his/her)(their) assignment."
for the opinions and the rules.
We're teaching this weekend. The idea of a
Chinese holiday is to postpone the work to the weekend. Next week we don't
teach Monday through Sunday, but then after the term is over we will teach
to make up the holidays. Clever! Why haven't the Americans thought of this?