Susan - I've been fascinated with your trip and following it since you first went last summer! I would love to hear MORE! Did you have people who could not overcome their hesitance to speak out? What were the people like? What grade level or age did most of the teachers teach? Is almost everyone learning English there? Or how common is it to learn English in school there? At what age does common education cease? Do the people really eat all those weird things that they've been showing on tv? What did you eat when you were there? Barbara O.
Ohhh, I love questions Barbara!
First of all, everyone in the program had some level of English. Many of the teachers were sent by their district and had no choice, but most of them were delighted to improve their English and become better teachers. We also had teachers that didn't actually teach English, but were just trying to improve themselves. Also in that category were university students, business people and a few even as young as middle school students. Our youngest was a 12 year old girl who came with her mother. She was put into a separate class from her mom and was amazing! I'm not aware of anyone who didn't overcome their initial hesitation -- on the other hand, they had no choice but to speak at least sometimes. It would be pretty hard to keep your mouth shut for the entire time. :-) They were given citations for speaking Chinese, and if they were caught speaking Chinese more than four times, they were sent home! (No one has ever been terminated for that reason.) At the end of the session, everyone had to recite a 15 minute speech they had written and memorized in order to get their
The people were delightful. I absolutely LOVE the Chinese people! This is coming from someone who was interested in "helping people" but with no special interest or concern with
As far as grade level, we had all levels from pre-kindergarten to senior school. The methods we used were based on how children learn...by fun, games and natural conversation. Some of the senior school teachers felt it was too simplistic for their classrooms, but they still learned and improved their English. The biggest problem that hinders English learning is the rote memorization that is used in many areas of education. They "teach to the test" -- sound familiar? Students learn the vocabulary and grammar rules, but don't learn how to carry on a real conversation. They were from all over
Yes Barbara, I think just about everyone in school studies English. As poorly as some of the teachers speak it though, you can guess how much their students learn. Normal Chinese education lasts until the 12th grade. Then they are under HUGE pressure to pass entrance exams for the best universities (if they take a test for U of Peking and don't get in...they are finished. They can't go anywhere else...at least that year.) Their success in getting into a "good" university affects the rest of their lives.
Finally, YES at least SOME people really eat those weird things you saw on TV. We were at the same street market where you saw the scorpions and EVERY part of an animal's body was available to be cooked before your eyes. I'm not convinced many people beside tourists trying to prove something actually eat those scorpions though -- none of the Chinese I talked to would actually do it. However, I have pictures of some of my team mates and other tourists eating them. At the left is teammate Sarah enjoying her snack. YUCK! On the other hand, I ate the duck feet that came with the Peking duck. The method of service is to present the perfectly roasted duck and have the chef carve the slices to be served. Then the remainder of the duck is sent back to the kitchen and part of it is made into soup, while the rest of it -- the bones, etc is deep fried. I can assure you that deep fried duck feet is crunchy and chewy, but has no taste whatsoever! We didn't do the Hot Pot this year...but the restaurant shown on NBC was in Chang Ping, the section of
Actually, we mostly ate in the school cafeteria -- which every student said was bad. There were a few things that were good, but by the end the things *I* would eat were pretty limited. If I couldn't identify the concoctions in the pans, I would stick with fried rice and hard boiled eggs. Brown chicken eggs...not to be confused with green duck eggs! They also had bags of yogurt and nutrition drinks based on yogurt, which were very good. Red date yogurt and red bean ice cream were wonderful, believe it or not! Bottled green tea and milk tea were my favorite drinks. We drank gallons of bottled water too.
BTW, when I came back last year, I announced that Chinese people don't eat sweets. WRONG! There was an amazing bakery next to the church we attended that did the most exquisite desserts which was very popular. Also, candy and ice cream were in abundance -- even chocolate. It was not served with meals, however.