Saturday, December 10, 2011

Taught English in Chinese

Our new accountant, Fred, learned English in elementary school but has since forgotten it all, turns out. Like, I sat him down today and said, "OK, Fred, I'm just going to speak English and see how much you understand. Are you ready?"

Nothing.

"How are you?"

Nothing.

"你知道 How are you? 吗?"

"对, 对, 对."

"OK. Great. How are you?"

Nothing.

"Then you don't know, Fred."

"对, 对, 对."

"OK."

Soon Dajie joined us.

So I started using Chinese to teach them English, which was really weird and fun for me. Have you ever used a second language to describe your own? I recommend it. Today I taught them six words for things in the room and in my pockets and the questions What's this/that? and What are these/those? and their answers, which if you've taught ESL before, you know is a whole lot to process, especially for people who barely know any words. My favorite part of the whole class was when Fred asked about the difference between is and are and I told them English had eight different forms of to be (Chinese has exactly one, 是, no matter past, present, future, or subject) and their mouths dropped down a second. We have a ways to go.

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