Frustrations and English

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May 19th 2007
Published: May 19th 2007EDIT THIS ENTRY

Lately I have been getting more and more frustrated with the Chinese way of doing things. They do some things that absolutely don't make any sense to me. Today, for example, the security man who works for the school (Jason) walked into the foreign teacher's office and turned on the flourescent lights (which we never use) instead of the halogens (that we always use). He told Yuki (one of the students who is always here and kind of like a friend to me) to translate to me that the reason he was doing it is because the halogens are more apt to cause a fire when they blow out - they're not used to being on all the time and so we need to use the flourescent lights more. Now here's the thing, in our office there are three halogen lights. In the hallway outside and at the front desk there are at least 30 halogen lights (and no flourescent). What in the world is three lights going to make of difference? I told him foreigners don't usually like using flourescent lights because they are not good for you and hurt your eyes. He tried to mumble something else and then sent the education head to ask us to do the same thing. When I explained that we don't like them and there are more outside the office than inside she also mumbled and ended up leaving. Therefore the result being that we continue doing the same thing that we do now.

Yesterday we were informed by one of the tutors that we have to print things and copy them the day before we need them. The foreign teachers all explained to her that this was literally impossible. We are not given our schedule for the day until the day of and need things in the folders we teach copy the day we get our schedules. We also need things for English Corner printed the day of English Corner (as most of us only plan for English Corner that day and not a day sooner - although no one but the foreigners know that). After we explained to them all the reasons why they hemmed and hawwed for a long time and resolved to ... (you guessed it folks) do the same thing we do now.

While discussing the copier and printer (one and the same) the question was brought up as to why it was put all the way in the back - thus making us walk 4 times longer distance than before. At first the reason was given that at the previous position the sun shone on the back of it thus making it go bad. When we asked why blinds weren't put on the window it was finally explained to us that the reason it was moved into the back was because the students were using it and it was going bad.

First of all my question is why bring something up if you're just going to do what you've always done when it's questioned? Second of all why don't Chinese people just state the true reason for something instead of sidestepping it with what seems to be an extremely illogical answer? If you know the answers to these questions please let me know.

On another note I taught my English Corner today on the difference between British and American English (which I thought was extremely interesting). I learned a couple things that were really neat - first of all I learned that everything from pronunciation (which is obvious) to spelling, vocabulary and even grammar is different. This is not too shocking but while looking into these things I discovered that the reason for the difference in pronunciation is that Americans generally have a more nasal pronunciation where British people have to block their throat, bronchi and lungs to pronounce. It turns out that nasal pronunciation is common in many languages but the way British block their throats and lungs is so uncommon that it's even the cause for a lot of asthma and bronchitis for British speakers. I also learned why Chinese people have so much trouble with prepositions like at/on/in. The reason is that it's different for American and British speakers, so at a school where every student is taught by both speakers no wonder they get confused.


20th May 2007

It doesn't make sense!
I had to read your blog entry after seeing the title. It's exactly the kind of thing my friends and I get frustrated at here in Chengdu. One person we knew put it quite simple when someone said 'It doesn't make sense!', there response was 'It makes sense in China.' I think that is the only way to explain these frustrations. I have so many to tell I could write a book x

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