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The weather in Guangxi has turned much worse with rain torrents for the last two days. Frost has been reported in Nanning City. I woke up much earlier today at around 6 as my morning dreams urged me to get out of bed to write something again. |
I am recounting what have happened to me since I lost my teaching job in the girls school here in Yangshuo. Is that a real loss to me? Perhaps not. I have had such experiences in my life many times. What appears to be bad in fact turns out to be pretty much to my advantage and throws me into other areas that enrich my life experience than doing me any irrepairable damage.
The fact that I can not use Mandarin to communicate properly with the students in that girls school I taught in is not my fault as I was hired as a foreign teacher. Yet it made my life a little bit awkward as I knew I was in the classroom talking a lot of times to the wall. Now the determination of it came from the school itself, it did give me a great relief so I was released from that miscalculated situation of the school operator.
My English Cat, a name I give her as she is called Catty, approached me during the winter vacation to beg me to take her on as my student because she knows very well that she has already wasted more than 4 months in the school and that continuing on in the school will no way make her speak or write in English. Her daring approach I admire as she was not actually my student since I didn't teach the first grade in the school. She did stop me in the staircase and asked me about how to study English before the school term was over, and also daringly kidnapped me and another foreign teacher, Aussie Tom, when she invited us to her home on a Saturday morning. That was neat because of that visit, I came to know her family, a trust from them in me is important as English Cat will be staying with me alone in an apartment.
Now I have with me a guinea pig to test out if the idea of living with the English teacher can work wonders since English Cat cannot mutter a sentence so far even though she has finished junior high school and has also spent a few months in a senior high school claiming to be a special English only school preparing these mostly farm family girls in the Guangxi region for office jobs in Guangdong after a course of study lasting 3 years during which they study English, computer skills, trade knowledge and correspondence.
Since I had no clue how good or bad or English was when she first started, I let her do some reading to find out exactly went wrong with her that she could not even mutter a line. My conclusions are that she has forgotten about grammar altogether and that she has no sense at all about English i.e. lack of English cells as she keeps telling herself.
Then came into the picture of good friend and student who had gone through the same problem when she first migrated to Canada where she had lived for 13 years before returning to China. She did not speak English when she first migrated to Canada from Hong Kong where she first settled after leaving China. Then she learnt it from foreign teachers in Canada starting from scratch. After meeting English Cat, my student/friend Yvonne offered her the opportunity to learn the grammar basics in exchange for cooking and cleaning her house. English Cat then moved from my apartment to Yvonne’s and there she studied grammar and learnt how to make simple sentences.
That was roughly under a week and then she came back to stay with me temporarily when I started talking to her only in English wherever possible. Last Wednesday, she went with me to Guilin as she is familiar with Guilin City to look for a computer center where I could have my computer repaired. We found a shop and left the computer there for a used motherboard to be swapped in to replace the old and broken motherboard. We strolled around in the streets of Guilin whilst I talked to her in simple English. She started to react in English for the first time as she had a better idea how to make a sentence after the short stint with Yvonne.
I was overjoyed and so was she. Someone who was so lost and frustrated only two weeks ago as she could not mutter a sentence in English is now speaking it slowly. It's a wonderful start. She is now working much harder having gained the confidence to use English. I insist that she start with proper living English as opposed to the broken English or Chinglish.
Now let's get back to the issue of luck. English Cat is lucky because she approached me at the right time when I was not tied up in teaching English full time in a school. I spend my time in a comfortable and spacious apartment here in Yangshuo, with a view right outside of my window, when my eyes can move easily from the computer screen to the green rocks which I always relay as inverted ice cream cones. How the heck can I find this scenery back in the densely populated concrete jungle in Hong Kong or in the Shenzhen City in south China? I need this quiet environment to develop my 3rd career as a writer of some sort. And my young wife is left behind in Shenzhen so I won't have around me a woman who acts like mother chasing me to stay away from the computer as she doesn't have a clue why I am online all the time as if my life is nothing more than that computer screen and the people I chat with from that box in cyberspace.
Now it's my turn to count this my luck as I am so absorbed into an ambitious mission in forging a few more capable English users here in China as a dedicated English coach. Finding someone who is genuinely interested in the use of English rather than sitting for exam is not easy here in China. Money is also an issue. Now that English Cat is a simple girl of 20 who is not wild and crazily dating someone or hanging out with other girls, she has made it possible for her to focus on her task of learning English. I stopped her from "studying" English in the school environment where most Chinese English teachers are too weak to motivate their students as they too are struggling with their limited English knowledge much more in the use of living English.
[ Last edited by cyberparrot at 2009-3-31 09:21 AM ]