The Alphabet, Beer, and how China will destroy our civilization

A is for Alphabet. B is for Beer. C is for China. D is for Doomed.

I thought it was curious that my adult students in Tianjin didn’t seem to “get” rhyming. I taught a series based on Dr. Seuss books, but the whole rhyming concept seemed new to them — like they just couldn’t hear it somehow. Now, as a preschool English “teacher”, I think I may have uncovered the source of this mystery.

The most popular beers in the world are ones you’ve probably never even heard of. Because China just has that many beer drinkers. But beer is not the point. Apply the beer situation to the English language, specifically, the ABC song, or as it’s known in China, the “ABC字母“。 It’s like they felt they needed to correct our poor allocation of syllables or something:

Seriously, walk into the nearest Chinese preschool, sing the first line and watch what happens. Or listen to this, which lives in our school’s classroom computers. Is it not appalling?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

But if 2 billion Chinese kids learn it “wrong” and a measly 500 million Anglo-American kids learn it “right”, the “right” version doesn’t stand a chance.

Chinese beer will rule the beer world. And so will Chinese English. By sheer force of numbers. Western civilization is doomed.

[Photo Gallery:] Chinese group tour, Qingzhou, Shandong 山东省 青州

Joined a Chinese group tour with 50 of my coworkers over the Tomb Sweeping Festival holiday weekend — so domestic tourism, China-style. We visited tourist traps in and around Qingzhou 青州 (near Weifang 潍坊) in Shandong Province (山东):

  • Huanghua (“Yellow Flower”) Creek 黄花溪
  • Taihe Buddhist Temple 泰和
  • Yunmen (“Cloud Gate”) Mountain 云门山
  • Ouyuan Street 偶园
  • Qingzhou Museum 青州博物馆

Click a thumbnail below to launch the viewer.

My only non-Chinese coworker (from another branch of the preschool) also came, and her photos are here and here.

So it begins…

Monday was the first day of a new Chinese preschool school year.

And that pretty much sums it up. But I’ll share some special highlights below anyway.

First day of the school year means the opening ceremony. The school yard is ringed with parents (mostly grandparents) peering between the iron bars. We have to make a good impression.

As a 6’4″ foreign male at a preschool with an all-Chinese-female admin & teaching staff…

…I totally fit in.

This is where we teachers all pledged to do something, but I’m not sure what:
Chinese sound systems are for noise, to make an event sound like a Big Deal, not for clearly amplifying sound so large numbers of people can understand what’s being said. Plus at the time I was thinking: Oh hey, so this is what Chinese do instead of placing one hand over your heart and raising the other palm-out…

The kids had to turn around and bow to the teachers:
But only about 1/4 of them got the memo.

The Expensive English-speaking White Guy and the Obligatory English Song:
(I want it noted in my annual review that my feet actually left the ground.)

“Foreign teachers” (外教) are the bottom of the Anglo-American expat barrel, I suspect even below 4th-rate amateur Russian models and, at this preschool, hovering somewhere in the vicinity of the only other males on staff: the cook, driver, and gate guards. And I’m pretty sure I don’t outrank the cook.

More Chinese preschool stuff: