Today I was involved in a class which aimed to explain the difference between American and British English (i.e. spelling, pronunciation). This was made difficult by the fact that Chris (a foreigner teacher from california) and me apparently sounded the same. Only towards the end of the class, when we played a game of twenty questions did the kids start to participate more. I fear this will be a problem when I start on my own classes next week: children here find it very difficult to understand conventional English after listening to their regular teachers, and those who do understand often lack the vocabulary to express what they want to say (this mirrors something my friend Will, also a TEFL teacher in China, has said in his blog – http://greatwillofchina.wordpress.com).
On a lighter note, some of the answers to twenty questions did prove amusing. One game, where the answer was policeman (we had been talking about the English word for them – bobby) came these little gems:
1) Chinese Geisha (historically this term could involve a number of different services, but the raucous laughter suggests which one she had in mind)
2) The ladies popular in Thailand – I’m guessing she means lady boys.
3) Is it a vest? Erm, no, it’s a person. Remember?
Quick note on food. I have been here a week now and have not eaten in once. By my reckoning it is more expensive to cook for yourself (and at least double the hassle) than it is to eat out. For example my breakfast will consist of: roast duck leg, rice, steamed egg, cabbage and pumpkin vegetables and lots of green tea, all for about £2. And this is at the expensive end of the spectrum. I’m not sure if I’ll make 4 months without cooking, but I’m gonna damn well try.