26th January 2020
Teaching in China is a gift from God.
I don’t think anyone who has been there and teaching will ever be the same.
The students are wonderful. If they like you they are your friends forever. I was lucky and have many friends from those years and I really loved them all.
Memories are a gift which I treasure.
Today I want to talk about my group of eight.
One day I was visiting a University in my neighbourhood and came across 2 of them.
We started talking and this was in October and I would be leaving at the end of the year. They expressed their desire to learn more spoken English and told me they had friends who also wanted to study outside the class hours.
I was just waiting for my departure and there was an opportunity to spend my time doing something decent and wonderful. We had lessons and our classroom was outside, we did not have any room and this was ok for us because the weather was fine. Sitting on the grass was perfect. Sometimes other students came by and wanted to join the group but this was a closed one so no more people.
I love them and they are the ones I most enjoyed teaching. They were there because they wanted to. There was no pressure, just the interest and joy. Sometimes in China we experience the pressure and lack the interest. There is a difference between those two, the interest and joy and the pressure and lack of interest, a huge difference.
One of them did not talk. He was shy and no matter how we tried to get him to participate he kept silent. He was a wonderful boy, intelligent and had all the ability to become a perfect speaker but something was keeping him back.
One day I came early to the class. The first one that arrived was the shy one. We sat down far away from the traffic and I explained to him how I knew he would be ok if he just let go and began speaking. I told him how I was struggling with the Chinese language and gave him an example of some words I could not pronounce properly. We had a good laugh and he tried to help me get the strange sounds out of my mouth. A miracle happened. Suddenly my dear student began talking English like he had never done anything else. He explained to me how to position my tongue in my mouth so the Chinese sound would be better. He explained to me how I could practise and one day I would manage this CH which was my Achilles’ heel!
I looked at my wonderful students and asked: Do you realise that you have been speaking English to me now for almost half an hour?
He looked at me and smiled. The most beautiful smile I have ever seen on anyone shone in his eyes. He had overcome his shyness and as I had known all the time he was perfect. After this my whole class participated and we had a lot of laugh and a lot of good time together.
We did keep in touch after I left China and the group also continues their friendship. I have a feeling that if you touch the heart of the Chinese they are yours forever.
Some of my students have asked if they could skip calling me “teacher” and call me mum or mother. What more is there to wish for?
When we had our last class they gave me tea and a book they had made for me with a page from each of them. Wonderful treasure and I might show you some of it another day.