a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures
Nin hao. Welcome to China. The land of oxymorons and green tea. First impressions of China: confusing and unintelligible. I’m sure English must sound like one long word to non-speakers but Chinese – Mandarin or Cantonese – sounds like one long sound. One long loud angry sound. What was even more confusing was that at our school the teacher spoke to each other in Cantonese (we were in the South) but all the lessons were conducted in Mandarin. So there was very little hope of us ever comprehending what was going on.
But what an amazing country. There are no half measures in China. It’s beautiful, hectic, crowded.
My class was at school from 9 to 5, and that was kindergarten. Every morning (rain, sunshine, or snow, I kid you not) we would all stand outside in lines, stand to attention during the national anthem, and then do aerobics. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided by the school (because we were there so long each day) and a lot of the time it involved chicken foot soup.
When Lisa and I were feeling brave we would jump on the bus (hoping it was the right one because we were never really sure) and go to our local restaurant: Happy Together. Ordering off the menu consisted of pointing at words or pictures – it didn’t really seem to matter which, you never got what you thought you were getting – and hoping for the best.
So that’s what we did for a while. Tried to go places and hoped for the best. More often that not we went in the wrong direction or ordered chicken foot soup, but that’s just the way it is in China.