Our hero is John, who is wandering through life without purpose. This wandering led him to a humanities degree, then to unemployment, and finally, to the great refuge of unemployed humanities majors: ESL in China. Though Wuhan later becomes an existential swamp for John, here at the beginning, everything is new and exciting. This is …Read More
Dear Chinese student, If you’re reading this, you have already decided to seek higher education in an English-speaking country. Congratulations! Going abroad takes a lot of courage, and I’m sure you’ll do very well. Before you go, though, I’d like to send you a modest list of things to remember when using the English language. …Read More
I’ve been resisting the idea of doing a “goodbye China” post for awhile now, just as I resisted the idea that I was leaving China. I remember clearly what it was like the summer before I left America. Those initial emails, the excitement, the trepidation. The realization that my options were a) go to grad …Read More
… He died an old man in a cold Chinese hospital an entire hemisphere removed from everyone and everything he had ever known. Surrounded by strangers, he couldn’t even have read his own obituary.Read More
I had an English class once where this girl interrupted me to ask what I thought of Japan, and without waiting for an answer, proceeded to tell me that Japan had killed many Chinese people, that they hated China, they were jealous of China. Then she went into Korea. Korea “stole our culture”. You’d think imitation the sincerest form of flattery, but not this girl.
I didn’t know what to say. On one hand, listening to this recorded message, it dawned on me that I was 12,000 miles away from everyone and everything I had ever known…and that according to some people, this, this, blind allegiance, blatant censorship, and self-checking all in the name of “harmony”…this is the next superpower.
On the other hand, she was speaking. I take what I can get.Read More
“How can someone who exists on the fringes of a society understand that society?” Jack said. “You’re a laowai, a wai guo ren, an outsider. You can’t understand pigs without shoveling pig shit, you shouldn’t even fucking eat bacon. How can you be an expert on death without taking the occasional life?”Read More
…that look came upon his face. It stuck there as he went over and bashed the usurper right in the eye with a Lego block.
A black look grotesque enough on a five year old’s face, when seen on the face of a sixty-four year old man…I think Matt noticed too. Or maybe he was just hitting his stride. He took Xia Yu’s hands and started dancing with her.
He was fired a month later.Read More
“Freshman?” Jack said. “The first I taught freshman English, all the girls came up to me after class and asked if they could come home and fuck me.”
…and we never had another group dinner.Read More
As a former English teacher and long-time observer of the curious ways Chinese people approach our native tongue, my list of linguistic pet peeves is surprisingly few. Yet there is one term that I can no longer stand: delicious. Ask any Chinese person about his or her favorite food and you’re bound to hear the …Read More
A few weeks ago, I decided it was time for a change in my English as a Foreign Language classroom. The lessons I’d been teaching had been disjointed one-off topic lessons that piqued the interest of a very small portion of my 825 (give or take) middle-school students. The vocabulary used was scanty, I hardly …Read More
As an English teacher at a 6,000-strong middle school in the northwest of Hunan province, I come into contact with several hundred students a day. My course load puts me in front of roughly 850 students a week. In a school as cramped as mine, the students and staff are constantly breathing each other’s germs. …Read More
As a bona fide news junkie, one of my favorite magazines is Foreign Policy. Each dead-tree issue has a section called “Think Again” in which a writer analyzes a series of assertions about a particular subject, say, the Israel/Palestine situation, and offers a slightly contrarian take on what many consider to be conventional wisdom. Let’s …Read More