Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lost in Translation

Every day when I walk home from school, I go over the day in my head and wonder how I survived the psychological beating my students gave me in class. Yesterday was no exception. One of my students, who I’ll call “Zach”, volunteered a lot of answers. Every time I said “Yes, Zach?” or “Zach, what’s the answer?” the whole class would dissolve into laughter, jeering, and outright taunting over my apparent mispronunciation of his name. I’d say “Zach?”, they’d screech “ZACH!” I mulled over it in my head for four hours and still can’t make heads or tails of it. Their “Zach” sounded exactly the same to me as my “Zach”. I know this class’ last teacher was from New Zealand. Maybe if I try sounding like a Kiwi I’ll get it right?

95% of the time, I’m not being mocked by the students and they’re actually very sweet. When they do laugh at some gaffe I’ve made, I often catch myself thinking, “If only these kids knew what I know now. They’d be so much easier on their teachers!” Then I remember that the only thing I can do is laugh at my own mistakes and at the cultural differences between us. As soon as you start taking yourself too seriously, you lose any chance of being taken seriously by your students.

This weekend we’ve made some social plans and I’m REALLY hoping we can go to the National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung for the Silk Road exhibit on Saturday. We’ll keep you posted!

Also PS - The typhoon day was a total anticlimax. It drizzled a little in the afternoon but it was otherwise a lovely day off. I had lunch with a girlfriend and went shopping for stuff for the apartment, and Boje spent the afternoon catching up on correspondence and doing lesson planning. We did a little laundry, we went out for beef noodles. No biggie. The rest of the week, however, has been so rainy! I’ve even been forced to take a cab to work to keep my books from being soaked during the walk!


  1. His name might sound like something in Chinese or Taiwanese, kids think that's funny sometimes. Or there's some kind of weird inside joke about it, another kid used to have that name or something like that. Kids are weird. Did you mention it to your Chinese staff?

  2. The CT was sitting right there and didn't seem phased! I don't know what it is - I've decided to ignore it. They'll just have to get used to my accent I guess!!