Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Do you go to sleep when you go to bed?

Monday I had my first Chinese class. It's hard. I'm not sure how great I will be at it. But it will be a relief to actually know what is going on around me once I start to learn a little.

I'm already picking up a bit.

I've been doing a lot of subbing this week. Most of my classes have been great, but there was one that was really boring. The kids were just slow at everything not to mention there were a million of them. It made it really hard to get anything done, so we didn't have time to play many games.

I've decided that I really hate when the Taiwanese co-teacher starts speaking Chinese to the kids. We try to treat our classes as a whole-English environment, the idea being that these kids have no where else to go to practice their English for the most part.

Sometimes we'll ask them what something is in Chinese just to make sure that they actually understand what the word is in English, but most of the time, we look for English definitions. I had this co-teacher yesterday who just kept talking to the kids in Chinese.

At first it was to explain a concept, apparently the phrases for "go to bed" and "go to sleep" are the same in Chinese so the kids didn't understand the difference in English. Then she just kept talking in Chinese and made a few jokes, etc.

This ended up with me getting uncomfortable. It's hard to have control over a class if you don't know what's going on. It's not that I think she was talking about me. In general, the Taiwanese are fairly non-confrontational. It was more about the fact that I looked like an idiot up there in front of those kids. This does not help with the whole respect factor.

Things I've learned so far in Taiwan:

Maybe it's just the ones here, but I'm getting this impression that Canadians have a pretty negative perception of Americans. It's a number of things, and they won't necessarily come out and say it to your face — although I suppose some might — but there has been a lot of America-hating in the dorm. Of all the people in the dorm, I think about 5 or 6 of us are American; everyone else is Canadian. It's not like they have a problem with me in particular or something, just with the way they think most Americans act or our general (capitalist) attitude toward things.

On that note, it is pointless to try to change a Canadian's mind or to test them on what they think they know. They seem to have a very unwavering perception of us.

What do I think about Canadians? I can't decide yet, though I have come to realize that I don't know anything about Canada. Does anyone remember learning much about Canada in grade school? I think this may have something to do with their disdain for us.

Next, Taiwanese people's English will probably always be better than my Chinese if for no reason other than they would rather speak English to me than have to suffer through my Mandarin.

Also, foreign men here are not interested in the foreign women here. It's a little frustrating at first, but one I am already quickly hurdling over. It comes off more annoying than anything at this point. Also, it's not such a bad thing to not get a lot of attention. Fading into the background helps me just see things for what they are.

Lastly, I have more respect now than I ever did for all of my grade school teachers. While I am only in the beginning of all of this, I realize that this is a hard job. I'm sure it's harder by at least 10 back home where kids don't care and have zero respect for their teachers.


  1. As far as the Canadians, the same thing happened when I was in Japan. It sort of makes me laugh, though, Canadians are almost exactly the same as Americans. I think many of them feel threatened in some way and have to distingush themselves as "different" than Americans. Generally speaking, people are threatened by America. Be it the way our government runs, or whatever the reason may be, people don't generally like Americans. Get used to it :) I think it makes life easier for people to put others in stereotypical bubbles..that way things are more predictable :)

  2. by thinking that people are threatened by America is where you are wrong. It's exactly that attitude that you don't understand why people want to be known that they're not American. As a Canadian, i've encountered a few Americans that are arrogant enough to bark out that the rest of the world should be like America....think about it, isn't that really an insult to have to hear? you're even more arrogant if you really try to reinforce it.

  3. hey just started following along...your adjustment seems to be going well. Megan and the dorm life should be a big help! goodluck!

  4. I do understand why people do not want to be known as Americans. I certainly am not assuming that Canadians want to be like the least. It is easy to put Americans into a bubble..oh, you have met a few Americans who think they are better so everyone must be like that! Just merely stating that it is easy for countries with no power to insult others close by who protect them. Canada does very little to help the rest of the world..other than state their moral superiority...but NO ACTION!

  5. Canada openly resents the United States while ignoring the fact that most of its culture is borrowed.

  6. Hi, I'm a passer by who happened to stumble upon your blog :) In regard to the co-teacher speaking Chinese, I think you should just confront her. It's disrespectful no matter which way you look at it. But be nice.
    BTW, I'm Taiwanese but I grew up in NJ.