When China’s air pollution confuses my preschool students

Sure, we cry too much about the air pollution. But this one’s darkly humourous, I promise.

I routinely ask the oldest classes, “How’s the weather?” while pointing out the windows. And they automatically take a glance and usually reply, “IT’S SUNNY!!!” (“Sunny” is their favourite. But they can do cloudy, raining, windy, snowing, hot, and cold, too.)

So today I ask them. They glance out the windows. “IT’S…” A couple weak “sunny”s peter out among the 30 students. They can’t tell if it’s sunny or cloudy.

Because even though it’s bright outside, THEY CAN’T SEE THE BLOOMIN’ SKY. There are no clouds, but it’s all grey, and where’s the sun?

Later I check, and every air quality monitoring station in the city is maxed out at 500:

Below 50 is “good”. At 100 we close all our windows and turn on all the DIY home air purifiers. At 300 the preschool cancels all its outdoor activities.

At 500… AIRPOCALYPSE! ;)

English teachers in China be like… (LOTR version!)

I’m thankful for this day job at the neighbourhood preschool; it gives us a visa and a place in the local community, and it’s easy. But some days — like right now at the end of the semester when you have to prepare 200 Chinese 3-to-6-year-olds for their English exam — I could be one of several characters on a hopeless quest into the depths of Mordor:
one-does-not-simply_CHINESE_PRESCHOOL_PRONUNCIATION
Gollom-hates-it-forever_PRESCHOOL_EFL
I-cant-recall_ENGLISH
English-teachers-in-China-be-like_POH-TAY-TOES

My daughter’s first moon cake

Each kid in the preschool got to make a moon cake for Mid-Autumn Festival. This was our daughter’s:
firstmooncake

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival 2015 from Qingdao!

I’ve eaten lots of moon cakes 月饼 over the years, but this is the first time I tried to make one:
preschoolmooncake
It’s a :cicada. (Purple stuff is not supposed to be showing.) Each preschool class makes them every year.

Happy Mooncake Day!

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:https://chinahopelive.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ABCs-the-WRONG-version.mp3]

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.

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:

Merry Chinese Jingle Bells 2013

Christmas Eve morning 2013, at my day job (turn up your sound!):

They get cuter in the chorus. IMO this one turned out better than last year’s.

More Chinese Christmas! –> Doing Christmas 2013 in China?