In the afternoon we were taken by surprise to judge nearly 50 kids who wanted to join a debate team in our school. Well, debate?? It has to be said that the debate is written and crammed before the actual debate is taking place though. I, and I am sure I am not the only one, wouldn't call it a debate at all, but anyways, these kids had to perform on stage, and we had to judge them. They had to talk freely (that means learned something by heart) about either their family, favourite colour or favourite animal. Some students, who wanted to make a good impression on the judges, talked about all of them at the same time.
The kids were nervously revising their sentences in the corridor. They were mumbling their phrases before they had to go up on the stage. And then one foot, and then the other. Suddenly they stood there in front of us, legs shivering, voice almost breaking, nervously breathing into the microphone. Off - rattling some of the sentences they had learned, forgetting the rest, a shy look, giggle, a stare at the wall, and time was up. He or she was replaced by number 2, number 3 ....., and number 50. Overall they all did a good job. They were bold and brave showing up, and actually talk into a microphone in front of a bunch of teachers, at the age of 10 and 11.
Here is an example of a speech of the students (most of the students had the same basis for there speech, so they didn't vary much from one another).
“In I family we very happy. I have 4 member in my family. A father, a mother, grandfather and little sister. My mother is very beautiful. He like to computer. My mother is a housewife/work in an office/is a nurse/is a teacher. My father is very fat. He is boss (making themselves big)/doctor/engineer and therefore she very busy (with a strooong Chinese accent). My mother is very kind. She cares me and give me many book. My father is strict and take care me study. They want me study hard. I like reading book. I like play basketball and football. My know much English. I likes English. I little sister is very cute and naughty. He like riding bike. I like my family, do you? Thank you."(bowing and leaving the stage).
Chinese people shorten English sentences, use wrong gender and no prepositions. You know why? ... Because you don't have these forms and words in Chinese. In Chinese TA is used for both he and she, and in addition the form of the verb does not depend on gender or time. WO, means I, me and my all at the same time.
In China there is a huge competition going on. Not only in the business world, but in all stages and parts in the society. Everything is about reaching the foremost top. To be the best student in your class, in your school or in the entire province, means more than anything else. The good students are standing in the spotlight constantly. But what about the rest? What about those who want to learn, who are clever and who can be a great resource for the society, but never get a chance to be, only because they are ignored? Sooner or later these students will lose their motivation to learn, only because they never get a chance to stick out.
The focus on good students leads unfortunately to that the others are ignored. They are anonymous.
We've got a drama team as well in our school, and got an offer that the English teachers in the different classes will pick out the good students who can join our drama team. A bad idea in my opinion. So we rather want to advertise for our drama class with the help of a poster. I hope some undiscovered stars are going to be discovered!
Despite the competition that exist in the society, and of which everybody’s life depends, the Chinese know what fun is as well. Just outside our office, 3rd graders were skipping rope, and guess what..., we joined them. Happy faces, laughter, jumping legs and excited shouts for half an hour is indeed great fun! Children are generally filled with an energy we are jealous of. Their excitement is however quite catchy. I have caught myself a couple of times of singing the teapot song and dance or skip along. When I close my eyes I can picture myself as a child again. I can again feel the excitement and curiosity I once felt about everything in my surroundings. And in those moments my childhood starts from the very beginning. When I open my eyes I’m back to be nearly 20 years, but still a sparkle of the childlike excitement is with me. And when it leaves me, I know I just have to close my eyes and use my imagination to get it back. Yes, everything is psychological. Your reality is your own design. It can be colourful or just black and white... That’s up to you.