Thursday, January 7, 2010

Doesn't watch t.v.

Getting a Ride Home
Two evenings ago, I taught a student who I discovered had a car and lived in my area of Wuxi.  I have been able to get rides home from him, shaving about twenty to thirty minutes off  my commute.  We talk about a whole manner of things on the ride back.  I learned that his mother didn't like watching television which was unusual for a Chinese person.  I then learned that this was because his mother couldn't understand mandarin and couldn't read.  Most television in China would be inaccessible to these people.  I was taken aback by this information and asked more questions about how this could be.  That is the way it was when his mother was growing up.
 I also learned that his father, who was from a wealthy family, had a high school education which raised the question of how his father could marry someone with none -- it would be the equivalent of a Master's graduate marrying a grade school dropout.  I said to the student that his mother must have been very beautiful.
What does a person who can't read and can't understand the language spoken on television do?  The student's mother plays a lot of Mah Jong.
Compliments and Complaints
This is a speaking exercise I have been doing lately in my English Corners.  It started off as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but after the students made a hash of it, by essentially saying the same things for the Bad and Ugly portions, I changed it to Beefs and Bouquets, and then finally to Compliments and Complaints and the students didn't understand B and B.  Compliments and Complaints still needs some explaining, before the students say what I want.  When, I ask them to give a compliment, they first gave examples of situations where they would give a compliment.  They also told me about situations where they had earned compliments which I again had to tell them was not giving a compliment.  Finally, when they understood what I wanted, they mostly complimented their parents.  Complaints were much more easily obtained from the students  -- it being a human trait that it is easier to mention the bad than the good.  Most students complained about not getting a raise at their job.  But one student told me about his boss complaining about him....
Cars and The Incredibles
These days, Tony likes to watch nothing but the Pixar movies Cars and The Incredibles.  This ties in with his fascination with earth moving machines.
Hand-made Wine
On the ride home with the student last night, I saw some characters I recognized in an advertisement that was posted on the back of a bus.  I saw the characters for hand-made (shou gan) used to sell a brand of rice-wine.
A Day without Tony
Thursday is my long day at school -- I have to be there from ten to nine.  It is on Thursday that I don't get to talk to Tony.  He is asleep when I leave and when I arrive home.  A day without talking to my son is like a day without hope.

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