Can you all believe that the year is almost over? Only 6 weeks until I return to the country from whence I came. For many of you reading this blog, I would assume that you have recently graduated and are getting excited for your upcoming year in China! I’m excited for you, because your year in China is going to be an amazing opportunity to see this crazy country and learn even more than you ever could imagine. To help you prepare, I would encourage you to skim through my other blog entries to learn more about living and teaching in China.
As a teacher in China, there can be a number of surprises, including the off-topic lessons you might run into. I have compiled a variety of these off-topic lessons that should hopefully give you a laugh.
-White Wine vs. Grain Alcohol: Now, I have warned about this confusion in the past. However, let me repeat that China is NOT a wine culture. Only the rich in China buy wine, and usually they are imports, because the Chinese wine is terrible. I have walked through many a grocery store, and I have never seen a single white wine. So when I was teaching my students the difference between 白酒（baijiu/white wine, aka a hard grain alcohol） and white wine, many of my students seemed surprised to find out that you could make wine out of green grapes and that this wine was called “white”.
-Whizzing, Mayonnaise, and Nigga: Often times, the Chinese will pronounce words incorrectly. I have found over the years that if you make the mispronunciation funny, the students will more likely remember it and fix it. I personally like to add an over the top dramatization to really help it sink in, and here are some of the more common ones:
-With/Whizz: Are you with your friends, or are you whizzing on your friends?
-Think/Sink: Are you thinking, or are you sinking like a boat?
-Thing/Sing: Do you have nothing, or no sing?
The most notable, however, include their usage of the infamous Chinese words “nigga” and “mayo”. “那个” /nigga/ is the Chinese equivalent to “ummm”. However, when you get the sentence “I have a black nigga….. notebook”, it can get awkward. So, if your students are old enough, like mine, you might want to explain that it’s a racist term in English. This actually worked rather successfully because every time someone says nigga now, the students all shout “SO RUDE!!!”, and I’ve effectively broken the habit. “没有” /mayo/ is Chinese for “don’t have”, and to break them of this habit I always ask them if they want a sandwich. This did not work at first however, because, as I quickly realized, my students knew neither what mayonnaise was nor what you would do with it. Therefore, a fun 5 minute culture/food lesson emerged!
-Playboy: In the business world, Chinese is infamous for having very loose, aka non-existent, respect for copyright laws. Hence the many knock off brands like “Channel” and “Louise Vuitton”. One of my personal favorites is the Playboy Bunny. If you’re an innocent Chinese girl, what do you see? A cute bunny with a bow tie! HOW ADORABLE!!! However, if you’re not Chinese, you see it and go NAKED WOMEN! So, let’s just say in every class I’ve explained that their cute little water bottle may not be considered cute in other cultures. I don’t feel too uncomfortable doing this, because I’ve built up a rapport with them. Honestly, once you lay out on a desk like a Playboy Bunny and say “Naked Women Magazine” and then ask them if they’ve been in one to get the bottle, they can’t help but laughing.
Well, I hope you are all enjoying the nice spring weather and are ready for the adventure, whatever it may be, in the upcoming months! 祝