life of a rat
Daniel's Teaching Hints For Foreign Teachers In China
SOME TIPS FOR FOREIGN ENGLISH TEACHERS REGARDING THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN CHINA.
These are some tips and hints gathered from my own experience as a teacher here. Hopefully they will help people to understand the different classroom expectations here in China a bit better.
1. DO NOT SHOW UP LATE, AND DO NOT MISS CLASSES WITHOUT TELLING SOMEONE.
This may seem really bloody obvious, but it's surprising how often it happens. I know teachers who have been fired for missing classes. The thing is, if you do miss a class you are as likely not to get called up about it as you are to get called. This makes some teachers think that no one is noticing they are missing classes, and it's no big deal to do so - until it's too late. Believe me, missing class is no mean thing here, and someone (probably the principal and the party secretary) will definitely notice and it will not look good at all!
2. FIND ALTERNATIVE STRATEGIES TO SIMPLE ELICITATION.
This is one of the biggest areas of confusion for foreign teachers in China, and probably the reason that Chinese students tend to be unfairly labelled as "too shy" and "lacking all imagination". Imagine the class topic is "Friends and Family". Many foreign teachers will walk into a Chinese classroom and start off with a question like "So, who can can tell me something about their best friend", stand there and wait for students to respond, only to be met with a deathly silence. What's going on? Does no one in China have friends? Of course not. Is no one able to give an answer to a relatively straightforward question such as this? Of course they can. Unfortunately the problem is reinforced by the fact that many Western textbooks begin with open elicitation questions such as this.
The problem is that Chinese students are not enouraged to volunteer or used to volunteering answers in class, or asking questions for that matter. (For this reason, the other classic elicitation "So, any questions anyone...?" will also always be met with deathly silence.) Because the question above creates a possibility for them to make grammatical and pronunciation errors, there is a risk that they will lose face in front of their classmates. Making mistakes is equivalent to losing face - that's just how it is. And if they get it right, that's not much better either. They will stand out as special from the group. The group is more important than the individual and it's just not good to stand out - either as a success or as a failure. There's a saying here: "The nail that stands up must be hammered down."
How to get around this? Simple:
1. Nominate students. Don't wait for volunteers, just nominate a student. That way the student is not repsonsible for being made to "stand out" from the group - and it's not their fault if they either make mistakes or get it right. Chinese teachers usually do this, so you will get answers if you nominate students.
2. Always give them time to prepare an answer. Although this may not be ideal in the eyes of Western teachers, students will be much more confident if you give them a minute to think about and write down an answer to a question. Just because they don't answer instantly doesn't mean they are clueless: Chinese students like to think about their answer first and get it right. Teachers repeating the question or leading answers are considered a nuisance.
3. If you really want to elicit answers, make sure there is no "right" or "wrong" answer involved. Try asking something like "What is your favourite colour?" or "What styles of music do you listen to?" and you would notice that students will volunteer information quite happily.
3. MANY CHINESE ARE PERCEPTUAL LEARNERS AND NEED CLASSROOM FOCUS.
I remember one activity I tried and which failed miserably, was when I asked students to listen to a piece of music and write a story based on their feelings from listening to the music. Everyone sat there stunned. After two minutes or so, they complained that the exercise was impossible to do. At the time I didn't realize what was going on, but later I found out that many Chinese students are perceptual learners. This means 1) they see the classroom as a single whole field, and, 2) they need a central point to focus their learning energy on - a visual one. This doesn't apply just to Chinese kids, but some argue it especially applies to Chinese because their writing system is based on the visual recognition of characters rather than phonetics.
The problem with my musical writing exercise was not, as I first rather pessimistically thought, that Chinese students have no imagination, but that 1) a piece of music is not associated with a classroom "field" 2) as a point of focus it was much too diffuse for them to relate to. They simply didn't know where to begin. I also did not provide them with a model text (see next point below).
- Do not clutter the class field with multiple focus points. Stick to the front where there should be just one thing going on at a time. Don't be shuffling papers, looking for things, or drinking coffee while you are talking. Don't talk while writing on the board. For example, Western teachers often like to wander around the classroom when they are teaching. Use this technique sparingly, for example when you notice too many students doing homework. As you walk around you'll notice books and papers suddenly being shuffled, closed and hidden from all directions. This can be quite amusing to watch.
- Don't have more than one thing happening at once. Do not have some people doing this, while you are teaching a second group, while a third group is doing something else. Chaos will reign within minutes. Remember to keep it simple, stupid. This is not because Chinese students can't cope with complex tasks, but because in a classroom they are accustomed to rote and memorization learning. If your instructions have more than three points, they are too unfocussed and students will tend to get lost.
- When you teach, stand up. Don't, for example, sit down casually on a desk close to the back for a quick rest and continue teaching from there. It will confuse the students and make them uncomfortable. They'll all be craning their necks to look at you worriedly. Besides this is not acceptable behaviour in a Chinese classroom.
- Backing up what you are doing with visual cues means success. Chinese students often complain of poor listening skills. This is not just a Chinese problem, most students in the world are visual learners. However, it's amazing how smoothly your class will run when you back up what you are saying with written information. If you can somehow manage to prepare and teach your classes using PowerPoint presentations, your job as a teacher here will be heaven. Never just give instructions and tell students to go for it - always back up your activities with a visual example.
4. TEACHING THE MACRO-SKILLS.
WRITING: In China, writing is learnt from model texts. Students will take a model sentence, and might copy pages and pages of that one sentence. Memorizing other people's work is the key to good writing here. Copying is a valid way of learning. Many foreign teachers are shocked when they receive written pieces that are obviously copied from other sources. The fact is, that in China, this is a legitimate learning practice. That does not necessarily mean it is the best one, or even a good one: this is up to you to decide. However, whenever you ask them to write something, anything, give them a model text from which to work. Without it, they will have a hard time figuring out what you want. Make sure there is a legitimate need to write. I once asked students to write SMS messages to each other. They refused. When I asked them why, they said "Because it's too easy and we can just talk to each other." Makes sense, really.
Remember that, in China, it is better to show you know the wisdom of the masters, by being able to copy their teachings, than by showing off your own wisdom.
SPEAKING: It is a myth that Chinese students cannot speak. They certainly can - in Chinese. When it comes to English what is lacking is practice, confidence and being used to giving their own ideas about things in English. However you decide to get them to speak, realize that it will take them time to get used to you. Have them speak the obvious at first, then gradually make it more difficult. Careful scaffolding is a key skill the foreign teacher needs to use here. The problem is that often students will have a wide store of English vocabulary in their head, but it is behind a cultural lock and key. This means that they might get bored with having to answer the obvious, even when they are terrible at doing so. Make sure you explain carefully that at this stage you are focussing on form, not content. Content can come later when confidence has been built. Take care with fluency activities such as group work, pair work, class discussions and role-plays. These are not common learning strategies and students will not take to them easily. You have to really push them in these areas. Even then, expect a high failure rate at first. Don't get frustrated. Always be patient, firendly and encouraging. Keep pushing gently and eventually they will open up to you, especially when they realize they cannot get it wrong. After they have finally opened up, then you can focus on accuracy if you want.
READING: This shouldn't cause too many problems. A good practise is to get students to read the text aloud, as a group, rather than just having them read it individually. They really enjoy practising their spoken English in this way, which for them is completely safe and non-threatening. With discussion questions after a text, have students prepare answers by writing them down, before beginning a discussion. Remember that, as in any class discussion, you will have to nominate students.
LISTENING: Avoid the vague and general comprehension type listening questions often exemplified in western textbooks. It's a waste of time. The secret is that a listening exercise is actually a great way of getting students to speak some English in class. When I do listening exercises, I have students answer one or two questions. Then I play the tape sentence by sentence and have the students repeat each sentence as a class. Then I have them practise the conversation with each other out loud. Now they have a great model to work from, which they have practised and feel confident about: from here you can have them make up their own role-play or discussion based on the listening passage. It works!
Always remember: give a model for everything you do!
5. CHART YOUR OWN COURSE: DON'T DEPEND ON STUDENT FEEDBACK TOO MUCH. TAKE CONTROL.
I never bother with class evaluation sheets or student needs assessment forms in China anymore, because these are usually highly misleading. Usually on the form the students will indicate they want this, that and the other, for example, Western-style learning and free discussion, but when you give them those things, they find they cannnot cope with it and become very unhappy. Just recently I "demonstrated" a Western style class to a group of adult students, by giving them some activities and letting them go. The class was a miserable failure. They had all told me they wanted Western-style classes, every last one of them. I explained to them that this is what a Western-style class entailed. I asked them again: do you want a Chinese-style classroom or a Western-style classroom? They all said they still wanted a Western-style classroom. The truth is, often students will tell you what they think you want them to say. In China, the kind of classes taught is not up to the students to decide. Don't be misled when students tell you they want you to be a helper and guide rather than a source of knowledge and a leader, because the latter is exactly what they expect of you as a teacher. After all: you're the native speaker, so you are by default the expert. They expect you toshare your expertise with them in very practical ways.
6. DON'T BE A PIONEER.
Do not come to China expecting to enlighten the "backward" Chinese education system with your "progressive" Western teaching methods. You will fail and you will be resented for it as well.There's nothing wrong with introducing Western methods into your class, but do it gradually and with careful planning and sensitivity. For example, don't come to class, give students a text and tell them to "discuss" it. Nothing will happen. Avoid issues that concern politics, religion and sex - these are always inappropiate topics for class discussion. Scaffold your teaching style appropriately. After having them do a Western style exercise, let them do a traditional style exercise. Always encourage your students. You will soon learn that fluency is all that matters anyway. After a few weeks (or even months), you will be so happy that a student actually volunteers an answer, that you won't care if it's the worst English sentence in the world! Remember that the "teacher as facilitator" is a relatively unknown concept here. Don't be afraid to "teach" in the traditional sense. Teachers are considered "founts of knowledge" here and are highly respected for it. Chinese students don't just care about the communicative act - they like to get into the mechanics of the language as well. Know your grammar and your phonology. If you know your stuff and can teach it confidently, you will be greatly respected for it. If your only qualification is being a "native speaker:, then you should probably think twice about teaching here.
7. STAY COOL AND STAY POSITIVE.
Avoid complaining at all costs. Not only does it make you look bad, it gets you absolutely nowhere and is a waste of your energy. If the electricity goes off for a day in the middle of summer and it's 42 degrees and there's no one to fix it: tough luck. "This is China." Find a way around it. Go the the shop, buy some beer, get roaringly drunk and forget about it.
On the other hand, I find that many foreigners here are asked to do things they find unreasonable and instead of avoiding those things, they do them anyway and then spend a lot of time complaining about the ill-treatment they're getting. I find this a bit strange. If someone asks you to do something you find unreasonable, it is OK to let people know: just do it in a polite and friendly manner. If you still don't get your way, don't make a big fuss about: just don't do it. That's the traditional way of resistance in China. (However, don't miss class as a way of resisting. It's not fair to your students.) For example, even though my apartment is 30 metres from my office, and I need to work on my home computer (because it has an English O/S and a printer) I was asked to spend all my spare time (of which there is a lot) in the office. I just don't do it - there's no point. If you know someone is calling you at 8AM on a Saturday morning regarding work, don't answer the phone. If they ask why, tell them the truth: "I was sleeping. I did not want to be disturbed." If the headmaster calls you at 3PM on a Sunday asking you to come to his office, say, "Sorry, it is the weekend and I am unavailable." If the school says there is a curfew and you must be back by 10PM - don't get upset and angry, just ignore it and come back at 3AM. Wake the guards up: it's their job - they have to let you in. No one will get at you for it, you are just making it clear where you stand. Make it clear in a polite way what you will and won't tolerate. Remember, as a foreign teacher you have status. More likely than not, it has taken the school a lot of effort to get you there. They are certainly not going to fire you or cause you trouble because you refuse to follow their curfew.
But don't lose your temper. (I am generally a very patient and long-suffering person, but it suprised me how difficult it in fact was to keep my temper sometimes after coming to China! Especially in the first 6 months! Believe you me, your patience will be sorely tried sooner or later.)
8. INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR
A. DON'T BE A CLOWN.
Chinese students often seem to have unrealistic expectations that foreign teachers should be funny and very lively and that foreign taught classes should always be lots of fun. If you go and sit in on your Chinese colleagues' classes, you'll definitely notice that this is not the norm. So, in reality it's an unfair expectation of foreigners. If you do act the clown, or always play games and do "fun" activities, your students will like you that much the more for it, but it will be very hard for you to get them to ever take the class seriously. Discipline problems often follow. When you ask them to do some "real work", such as writing an essay, they will be very reluctant or even just refuse to do it. And worst of all, after a while, they will get tired of having a comedian teach them, rather than a teacher. You will lose face and lose the respect of the class. This is not to say you can't make jokes, have a sense of humour and have some fun, but, temper your class with activities that they would expect from any Chinese class, even if it means you get criticized for not being lively enough. "Being lively" is not part of the job requirement for a foreign teacher, just as it is not for a Chinese teacher.
B. BE PROFESSIONAL.
Dress professionally. Do not eat, drink or chew gum in class (water is OK). Be on time and finish on time. Don't jump on desks or lean casually on things or sit down when you are teaching. Use a title. Being too casual undermines your own authority as a teacher.
Above all: never lose your temper and raise your voice! Losing your temper, shouting and getting angry is JUST NOT ON in China. If you find yourself losing your temper, stop the class. Tell them slowly, and in a deadly serious way that you are very angry and if they do not behave you will end the class and see the headmaster. Raise your voice sparingly. An occassional shouted "Be Quiet!" is fine and can work wonders, but move straight on from there.
C. WHEN STUDENTS ACT UP.
This can be a problem. How to discipline in China? Usually Chinese students are extremely well disciplined. In any case, you can be certain they will never insult you directly. This would bring shame on them, as teachers are very respected people. They would look bad in front of all their peers. However, students can be uncooperative by doing homework, reading newspapers, chatting and so on. What to do?
Firstly, from the outset, make it clear that you expect the same standards of behaviour as would a Chinese teacher. Don't be a softie. Do not talk over low, ambient levels of chatter as these will soon become high, intrusive levels of chatter. (This can be very hard if students persist and you keep having to stop.) I have found that students often chat when you are doing a Western style activity they don't understand the rationale for. Switching to a traditional activity ("OK, now we're going to practise pronouncing and spelling the following words together" is often the magic cure. Suddenly everyone is attentive and knows what is expected of them.
If an individual student is causing trouble, do not under any circumstances discipline them by making them stand out from the group. Never kick a student out of class. Never ever yell at a student. Never ever ever completely lose it at an individual student. The appropriate thing to do is take them aside after class and sternly but calmly tell them what they are doing wrong and what you expect in the future. If a student persists, you can discipline them by asking them to stand up for a minute or two. That's all you have to do. The headmaster here told me that this is a very serious cue to the student in question as well as to the class that they have been warned and bad stuff is just about to happen. And it's a serious warning indeed. A few weeks ago, I told a disruptive student at the beginning of class that the next time he disrupted the class I would make him stand up. I didn't even have him actually stand up, but he was well behaved for the rest of the class.
I should note that, ironically, this goes both ways. It's almost as bad to praise a student for their excellent work in front of the class as it is to yell at a student for being bad. Praising a student in front of the class will cause acute embarassment, as you are disconnecting them from their peer group and making an example of them. You are making them stand out from the group and it will not be appreciated. If you want to commend a student for good work, do it privately where no one else can hear. Of course, saying "that's good" or "that's great" is fine after a student asnwers a question. Just don't make a big deal out of it.
9. It's OK to drink the tap water, just make sure it's boiled before you drink it.
That's it for now. I will probably add more as it come to mind and when I have time. Remember: enjoy your work! If you're not enjoying it anymore, it's time to go!
* Sometimes I notice students acting in a way which is tempting to interpret as disrespectful or provocative. For example they will make a comment in Chinese and the rest of the class will laugh. This used to worry and annoy me somewhat: I thought they were poking fun at me by exploiting the fact I couldn't understand the language (as we would definitely have done had there been a foreign teacher who couldn't speak English at my high school!) I have since learnt this is not the case at all. On more than one occasion I have been guaranteed by Chinese teachers that for a Chinese student to make fun of a teacher in a classroom is so culturally unacceptable as to be more or less impossible. At most they are making fun of each other or themselves in their own language. Still, it can be disconcerting. When students call out in Chinese, I now always make them translate what they just said, and will refuse to continue the class until I receive a satisfactory translation. These are usually mixed with copious apologies for calling out in Chinese in the first place, which is quite bemusing to witness. The lesson I have learned is to never interpret these incidents as negative and leave the class with a bad taste in my mouth though, as, by doing that, I would have completely misinterpreted the situation.
*The traditional Chinese classroom is a place for acquiring new knowledge, not to apply that knowledge. It is most likely that some students will always think it a waste of time that they are practising speaking (of all the useless things to be doing!) when they could be acquiring new vocabulary (or doing their geography homework for that matter). Chinese students apply what they have learnt in their study groups outside of formal class time. Unfortunately for you and me, class time is often the only time we get to see most of our students, and the only opportunity we have to get them to develop and apply their skills. There are of course many strategies around this, but I've found it very important to keep in mind what the concept "class" actually entails in Chinese educational culture. For this reason I always make sure that students actually learn something new, just to give them a sense that their precious time (and precious it is) has not been wasted - even if in my opinion what they're doing is not wasting time at all.
I haven't written or visited this blog for a while, as I'm not in China at the moment. So imagine my shock when I visited only to find that 20six had totally mangled and destroyed my blog when it overhauled the whole site.
I know this is free hosting but:
THANKS A FUCKING LOT 20SIX FOR WRECKING MY BLOG!
China and the Media
More and more when reading the news I see comments like these when big media outlets report a story about China:
Police officers reached by telephone Saturday in districts overseeing
the homes of Mao and Xu refused to confirm the report or give any
details. They hung up without giving their names .
Such comments reflect the extreme annoyance of journalists when attempting to contact Chinese authorities for confirmation, denial or just about any kind of statement at all. It also shows how symptomatic and endemic Chinese corruption within the official ranks still is.
When authorities are never available for anything in China one has to wonder what the fuck they are doing. Drinking beer with their mates down at the pub? Passing the buck to someone else? Filing nails? Jesus, who knows? They never ever answer their phones.
This is the standard response from government officials in China, but as China has become much more interesting to the world's media this "It's none of my fucking business, piss off", attitude is really starting to grate.
No matter that no one can get an interview with Hu "I'm the great reformer" Jintao, no one can get an interview with anyone because 1) no one wants to take responsibility and 2) of course, no one wants to be told by the Politbureau that they've lost their job, been excommunicated from the Party and 3) will be spending the next 20 years in a labour camp for speaking to the foreign press.
Don't be fooled. China is as communist and totalitarian as it has always been. Speaking up never pays back well in communist countries. More likely it will reward you with a lengthy jail term. This is something journalists covering the Beijing 2008 Olympics need to be fully ware of: China is not happy to bow to the outside world. It will just stick you in jail, UN or not, foreigner or not. After China is still China, the centre of the world.
Supercities and Psychic Maps
In Cultural Studies there is the notion of the psychic map, which refers to the way we mentally map the spaces we reside in. The psychic map is a diachronic notion - it traces the way we internalize space over time into manageable zones. It can be typically applied to the mapping of urban spaces - when you first move to a new city, there are no points of reference to guide you, but over time you create an internal map of the city, a kind of living image, which you use to manage your environment.
One of the effects of moving to a larger city compared to the one you came from, is that at first the lack of a psychic map can cause a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. This was particularly true for me when first moving from Melbourne to Shanghai.
Interestingly, the geographical area of the statisctical division of Melbourne (aka the greater metropolitan area) (c. 7000 sq. km.) is in fact somewhat larger than the geographical area of Shanghai municipality (about 6000 sq. km.). However, Melbourne's built environment is totally different to Shanghai, as the population of Melbourne SD is 3.6 million compared to Shanghai Municipality which numbers a population totalling more than the whole of Australia: 23 million (including the transient population).
In terms of "city limits" population (or inner city population) the difference is even more extreme: Melbourne's inner city counts around half a million people, Shanghai's counts a staggering 13.5 million; which gives it the largest "inner city" population in the world.
(In terms of total metropolitan area, Tokyo has the largest population globally, with about 27 million people.)
Shanghai's inner city is geographically about the same as Melbourne - I estimate them both to be about 100 sq. km.
Melbourne has a CBD of 0.5 sq. km. with about 25 or 30 high rises and taller buildings, while the rest of the city is flat; dominated by single up to four storey structures.
Melbourne's CBD in contrast to the rest of the city
The high-rise is totally ubiquitous in Shanghai, there are any number of CBD's - including Huangpu district, Xujiahui, Pudong, and Hongqiao; it is a decentred city in the true sense of the word, and the high-rise tower is, certainly visually, the most dominant structure in Shanghai.
Shanghai's endless skyline of high-rises
What this means in terms of psychic mapping, is that when I first got to Shanghai, I was totally and utterly overwhelmed by the urban environment there. The endless sight of skyscrapers amazed, dazed and confused me. The idea of effectively mapping the city seemed totally impossible and a useless enterprise to undertake. The very thought of having to do so exasperated me.
I had a similar feeling when first moving from Melbourne from the smaller Brisbane in 1994. Inner Melbourne is much larger than inner Brisbane - Brisbane is the city par excellence of bland middle suburbs.
When I first got to Melbourne, the CBD seemed enormous; cavernous is the impression that comes to mind. The inner city shopping strips seemed miles long compared to Brisbane's compact, suburban style strips.
After time though, the mind compensates, and just as I mapped Melbourne, I have by now also totally mapped and internalized the urban environment of Shanghai.
By this I mean for example, that I can negotiate public transport without thinking about it, I can even use the bus system; at any given time I at least know which district I am in and can visualize my position in relation to the whole city in my head. Shanghai occupies the same mental space in my head now, as did Melbourne before I moved to Shanghai.
When I visit Melbourne again though, the impact is almost as overwhelming. Because psychic maps tend to reduce any city to the same size in your mind, when I get back to Melbourne I'm always overwhelmed at how small the city seems compared to my mental map of it. If the biggest city in the world seems "ordinary" now to me, then Melbourne seems like a large town. I don't mean this condescendingly, because Melbourne's not really a small city at all - it's just that Shanghai is so unbelievably big.
It's a really weird feeling, because at the same time I have the memories of when I first got to Melbourne in my head - when Melbourne seemed endless and enormous to me. I try to recapture that feeling but I get dislocated by the map I have of Shanghai - Melbourne just seems so small in comparison.
Funny Tones Anecdote
In China, the word for both soup and sugar is "tang". The word is distinguished by which lexical tone you place over it. This can cause some confusion in restaurants.
Me and a friend were in one and said confusion was caused although afterwards we thought it was hilarious. My friend wanted a certain kind of soup. But he got the tone wrong. I have translated the exchange into Engolish for your amusement:
Friend: I'd like some sugar. I'm not sure what it's called - it's a mushroomy kind of sugar.
Waitress: Sorry? Mushroom sugar?
Friend: Yea you know - the sugar with the black mushrooms in it.
Waitress: I'm not sure what you mean.
Friend: You know...sugar! (Slurps an imaginary bowl of soup to show what he means.)
Waitress: You want to slurp sugar? Why?
Friend: Who cares? I just want some sugar.
Waitress: But we haven't got any sugar here. [Note: Chinese restaurants don't ordinarily have bowls of sugar available as sweet tea and coffeee is not usually consumed there.]
Friend: No sugar? What kind of restaurant is this anyway?
Waitress: Just like any other restaurant. Why do you want sugar anyway?
Friend: Aiya! I just want to drink some sugar...
Waitress: You want to drink sug.... (Enlightenment dawns on her face) ...Oh! You want to order some soup!!
Friend: Sugar!! Yes! [To me, in English:] Oh damn, I fucked up the tones, I've been ordering sugar all along. [To waitress, in Chinese:] No! No! I mean soup, of course! Sorry...sorry.
The Midnight Run
Aaah...shit...what have I done? I've run away. For various reasons, which anyone who has taught in a less than upstandingly run Chinese school can relate, but which I won't go into because I am so fucking sick and tired of having to whine about my job, I made the old "midnight run" (weel, it was more like three in the afternoon actually) and find myself back in the city I like most in China: Shanghai.
More or less, I'm sick of taking second best. As I have made clear previously, I'm not here for any noble or charitable reasons. I'm not here to advance international relations between China and the West, I'm not here to preach the gospel and I'm certainly not here to rot in some woefully administrated outpost on the edge of a run down city on the edge of a province so steeped in corruption and nepotism that it is utterly shocking.
Whatever it was I came looking for in Yantai, I didn't find it. What I did find was run down infrastructure, rampant alcoholism, chronic nepotism, things not working and myself stuck in a school where the Chinese leadership showed barely concealed contempt for and hostility to foreign staff.
So I'm back in dynamic, cosmopolitan Shanghai, working for a foreign run and owned English training centre, teaching professional young adults who are motivated and keen. It's a breath of fresh air...
asked a Chinese friend what he thinks of the Beijing Olympic
Friendlies, Bei bei, Jing Jing. Han Han, Ying ying, and Ni ni (In
Chinese, Beijing hanying ni = Beijing welcomes you).
He told me he hates them. Phew! So I'm not the only one then.
Why do we hate
them? Well, I guess you really have to see the animated commercial to
understand why. But the main reason is that they are so incredibly,
well, gay. I know it's probably politically incorrect to disparage them by saying they are too gay, but it's the best adjective by far.
In the commercial the friendlies variously fly through and fall out of
the sky, aaahing and cooing like very girly 3 year olds to a
sickly-sweet orchestrated soundtrack. They have absolutely zero muscle
or brawn, and look like they were designed exclusively for girls
between the ages of 3 and 8 years old.
That the rest of us are also supposed to get with them as well seems to
be a fair indication of which way the Chinese government prefers the
intelligence of the proletariat to be inclined. Dumb and meek as sheep - the better by which to follow The Almighty Party.
I hope this kind of sickly-sweet, artificial, very unhealthy cultural
treacle doesn't flow throughout the rest of the Olympics...otherwise
the whole world might just end up concluding the Chinese are all just