Skip to content
Site Tools
Increase font size Decrease font size Default font size default color blue color green color
Home Living in China Foreigners in China Foreigners in China First Impressions 对中国的最初印象
First Impressions 对中国的最初印象
Foreigners in China


I've heard a saying that went something like, if you stay in a country for three weeks you can write a book, three months a postcard, and three years nothing! I am now faced with this problem. Having lived in
China for about five years, I am totally used to daily life here. That shouldnt be something to complain about, right? Adapting to a different society and culture is something to be satisfied with, is it not? Usually it would be. However, it makes writing a column about my impressions of China a lot more difficult.

Luckily for me two friends from my country, Ireland, came to visit me during the summer. It was their first time in China and it was through their eyes that I rediscovered the pleasure of experiencing a foreign culture for the first time again.

At first I found their remarks and reactions to the sights of daily Beijing life puzzling. They were fascinated by every little detail. Details that I barely noticed. Why did they want to take a photograph of a man selling you tiao? What was so interesting about a line of waiters standing outside a restaurant? Why was a group of elderly people exercising in the evening so enthralling?

I started to recall that scenes like these once fascinated me too. In Ireland you just dont see them. It was then that memories of my first month in China came flooding back to me. When I first came to this country I worked as an English teacher in Wuhan. Thinking back it was the students I met in that first year and Chinese university life in general that gave me the deepest impression.

In the west, student life is a combination of study and socializing with a heavy emphasis placed on the socializing part!

During my first week as an English teacher in China I was invited to a student party. Having only recently graduated from university myself I still very much enjoyed student parties and gladly accepted the invitation.

On the evening of the party I was accompanied to a building on campus by two students. I was led to a room and entered expecting to see people dancing, drinking, eating and chatting. Instead, I found myself facing an auditorium of about two hundred students applauding me. I was handed a microphone and asked to speak. About what? I asked with a fright. Anything came the reply! After I got over my initial stage fright I found that it really didnt matter what I talked about. My audience were happy to have the opportunity to listen to a native English speaker. They simply wanted to practice their English.

In the course of the following year I encountered many such situations. I was genuinely impressed by the dedication and motivation of Chinese students. When I was a student I would rarely give up my spare time to any activity connected with study. Unless exams were approaching my weekends were devoted to having fun or perhaps a part-time job. My Chinese students, on the other hand, seemed to spend their entire waking hours studying. I understand that competition in Chinese universities is extremely intense. Nonetheless, their energy and drive put me to shame.

As a foreign teacher I was mainly responsible for helping the students to improve their spoken English skills. To most people that sounds really easy. All you have to do is turn up for class and chat with your students. Thats all very well but what if your students are too shy to respond? Most of the students could read and write English very well but getting them to talk was like drawing blood from a stone. They were experts at replying to questions with one-word answers.

Alcohol is the cause of and solution to many of lifes problems! Bearing this in mind I organized several parties and plied my students with booze. Once tipsy, they lost their shyness and the English flowed like water. This slightly unorthodox method effectively broke the ice and our speaking classes became a lot noisier. In a classroom noise is good, as long as it is the noise of activity.

It may be true that rote learning is over-emphasized in Chinese education. Nonetheless, I found that this does not reflect the natural character of Chinese students. Given the appropriate classroom atmosphere and a chance to warm up the students I met were naturally spontaneous and instinctively enjoyed drama. In some of the role-plays we acted out, certain students became so involved in their parts that they were bordering on an identity crisis!

My first year in China was also my first year as a teacher. If I said that it was all easy I would be a liar. It was both challenging and rewarding. I hope that my students actually improved their English or at least felt more interested in it by the end of the year. One thing I know for certain is that my year in Wuhan changed me for the better. Thanks to the politeness and warmth of Chinese students I conquered my fear of speaking in public and became more self-confident. Most importantly, I met dozens of fine decent people and made numerous excellent friends.

  我曾经听说过一个谚语,它好像是说“如果你在一个国家呆上三礼拜,你可以写一本书;如果是三个月,可以写一张明信片;而如果是三年的话,就什么也写不出来了!”我现在就碰到了这个问题。我在中国已经生活了五年,所以我已经完全适应了这里的日常生活。那没有什么可抱怨的,对吧?融入到一个不同的社会和文化氛围当中是一件值得满足的事情,不是吗?通常情况下是这么回事的。然而,当我负责一个描述我对中国感受的栏目时,这一情况却大大增加了我的撰写难度。

  幸好,今年夏天,我的两个朋友从我的祖国——爱尔兰赶来看我。这是他们第一次来中国,通过他们的感受,我再次体会到了初次领略异国文化的愉悦。

  起初,我发觉他们对于北京日常生活的看法和反应真是让人感到莫名其妙。点滴小事都会使他们着迷。而这些琐碎的东西几乎都被我忽视掉了。他们为什么要为一个卖油条的人拍照?为什么会对站在饭馆门前的一排服务员那么感兴趣?为什么会被晚上进行集体锻炼的老人所深深吸引?

  我开始回想起曾经吸引我的类似场景。在爱尔兰,你是看不到这些的。就在那一刹那,我回忆起我刚来中国第一个月时的情景,这些回忆像潮水般向我涌来。我第一次来中国时,是在武汉当一名英语教师。回想起来,我第一年遇到的学生和普通的中国大学生活给我留下了最为深刻的印象。

  在西方社会,学生生活包含学习与社会交往两个部分,而侧重点则是社会交往!我在中国当英语教师的头一个礼拜,就被邀请参加一个学生聚会。由于我自己就是刚从大学毕业不久,所以我仍旧十分乐于参加学生聚会,于是我欣然接受了这一邀请。

  在举行聚会的那一晚,两个学生陪我来到校园中的一座大楼里。我被领进了一个房间,在进门的时候,我想象着我会看到大家都在跳舞、喝酒、吃饭、聊天。出乎意料,我发现我走进的是一个礼堂,这里有大约200名学生在鼓掌向我致意。有人递给我一个麦克风,让我讲两句。“讲什么?”我战战兢兢地问到。回答却是“随便”!当我克服了最初的惶恐感之后,我发觉,我讲什么内容真的无关紧要。我的这些听众对于有机会倾听一个英语国家的人讲话是感到愉悦的。他们只是想练习英语。

  在接下来的一年当中,我屡屡碰到这种情况。中国学生的这种付出和干劲确实给我留下了深深的印象。当我还是一个学生的时候,我几乎不会为了与学习相关的活动而牺牲我的业余时间。除非是为了迎接考试,否则我的周末全都用于玩乐或者用于做兼职。我的中国学生却截然不同,他们似乎是只要不睡觉,就总是在学习。我明白,在中国大学里竞争是极其激烈的。尽管这样,他们的精力和干劲还是使我觉得羞愧。

  作为一名外籍教师,我的职责只是帮学生提高他们的英语口语技能。对于大多数人来讲,这听起来实在是很简单的一件事。你所要做的只是去上课,然后与你的学生们聊天。这的确没什么问题,但如果你的学生过于害羞而不敢启齿的话,那又当如何?大多数的学生在英语阅读和写作上非常出色,但要让他们开口去说就好比给石头抽血一般。他们只是擅长用单个词语来回答提问。

  在生活当中,酒既是许多问题的罪魁祸首,同时也是解决之道!想到了这一点,我就组织了许多聚会,每次都给我的学生灌酒。一旦酒劲发作,他们就全然没了扭捏之态,英语信口就来,滔滔不绝。这个方法虽然稍微有点出格,但却有效地打破了沉闷的氛围,使我们的口语课变得热闹起来。在教室里,热闹是好事,但前提是这种热闹是因课堂活动而起。

  也许,中国的教育体制确实是过于注重死记硬背的学习方法。尽管如此,我却发现这并没有反映出中国学生的天性。我遇到的这些学生只要拥有一个适当的课堂氛围、获得一个进行热身练习的机会, 就会很自然地进行互动,而且不由自主地享受着表演的乐趣。在我们进行一些角色扮演的活动时,有些学生就过于投入他们的角色,以至于他们都快分不清演戏和现实的界限了!

  我在中国居住的第一年也是我教师生涯的第一年。如果我说那真是太容易了,那么我就是在撒谎。这一年对我来说既有挑战,又有回报。

我希望我的学生在一年结束后能确实提高他们的英语水平,或者最起码能对英语更感兴趣。我可以肯定的一点是,在武汉的这一年使我得到了提高。由于中国学生的礼貌和热情,我克服了公开发言的恐惧感,变得自信起来。最为重要的是,我遇到了许多优秀的人并结识了众多要好的朋友。

 

 

Sponsor Ads

China Yellow Pages