Category Archives: languages

​Grade 4 ~ Monday morning madness


There is only one Grade 4 class at the school. They were my first class to teach each week ~ Mondays at 8:55am.  The class never started on time, my time was always short with them, and that was disappointing for us.  Despite the time constraints, we always managed to have a fun class. 

There is so much potential for the brilliant minds that are in this class.  I could have actual conversations with some of the kids and they were able to understand me and communicate with me.


They were a class of chatters but I still was able to connect with them.  They were a tough class to teach some days. Tough in that they were the most distracted of all the classes. Their classroom was in a corner away from the others due to renovations in the school.  Their interaction was mostly with each other so it was understandable that they chatted.


They were engaging when I had an interesting game or activity to do, they liked asking me questions about Canada and they also liked giving me a hard time about my minimal Chinese. I did manage to surprise them on occasion with some new Chinese words though!  They were very intent on teaching me Chinese!


Some of my favourite lessons with them were Scattegories, Scrambled Sentences, and Charades.  The charades was a very rambunctious game that came at a price of a broken ruler (not on one of them ~ on a desk~ oops!!)


I enjoyed the time with them and I can sense that there are going to be a lot of very successful students in that class.

As with all the students I have met and taught at Livon, I will miss these kids very much!!  It has been such an amazing experience teaching all these kids.

Grade 3 ~ the reasons why I love this career

If someone asked me what my favourite grade was to teach in China, this was it. Grade 3 without a doubt. These kids were awesome.

They were fun to teach, they were funny, they understood a lot, I could be silly with them but they also knew when they had to listen. One loud bang of the giant yellow ruler and they knew it was time to stop and listen.

Playing with them at lunch time (what time is it Mr. Wolf!), eating lunch with them every day, bonding with them outside of school at the playground ~ these are the kids that I will miss the  most. 

There are only two Grade 3 classes, each with 36 students, so it was much easier to get closer to them.  These kids ~ oh these kids ~ I will miss their laughter, their questions, their smiles, and their generous nature.   The snacks they would feed me, the high fives in the hallway, and lots of hugs.  

Albert, Frog, Yoyo, Sun, Sam, Terry, Derek, Nick, Coco, Cici, Angel ~ these are the names that immediately come to my mind but I will remember every single one of them.  (I wish I was just making those names up….but I’m not. Those are their English names!)

The Grade 2 students may have made me a better teacher, but the Grade 3 students showed me how much I truly love this career I have.  

Shine on kids, be the stars you are all destined for and know that I am going to miss you all so much!!

Fears of the unknown

I have many fears, as I am sure most people do. Some of my fears are common (war is on the top of that list) and some are not so common, I think.
I have overcome many fears since my traveling life has begun.  One was traveling alone ~ could I do it? Could I be happy being alone in a foreign place?   I have conquered that fear. Being alone in a foreign country is more liberating than fearful. Its an amazing feeling walking through European cities or Chinese cities and having a feeling of belonging, despite being stared at. Taking in all the sights to see, the smells, people watching. Experiencing a whole new way to live.  Adjusting as well as you can to the language.  I am happy to say that the fear of this unknown was a good one to overcome.


Last night I conquered a personal fear.  Eating out in public.  I have eaten in restaurants here in China ~ I don’t always like doing that but I have done it (the noisy eating I will never get used to!).  But there is one thing I have wanted to do and couldn’t work up the nerve to do, until last night.
BBQ is very popular here. There is a BBQ place near my place but I didn’t know what the food was. That’s another fear!  What am I eating?? I don’t usually ask, until last night.  I was walking by, on my way to get my usual chicken and rice dish when two of my students and their parents asked me to join them. So I did. I sat down, ate delicious food outside, with people watching, taking pictures and talking about me. (I know the Chinese word for foreign teacher ).

My usual chicken dish that I love!!
What did I eat?  Grilled tofu (I love tofu!!), a seafood skewer (no one could tell me what kind of seafood it was but it was good!), pork skins (yummy!), chicken (what part of the chicken is unknown but it was really good), chicken wings and a huge bottle of beer.  I overcame the fear of the unknown food and enjoyed a lovely evening with these very generous people.  And now I know I will definitely sit down again and enjoy the food there.
So when you’re traveling, take the plunge and try local food. Don’t be afraid. You may be pleasantly surprised!!  (I did say no to chicken gizzards though ~ I had to draw the line somewhere!)

Whatever you are, be a good one

An extraverted protagonist. Sounds interesting right??  I recently did a personality test and my results show that I am an extraverted protagonist. A diplomat People’s Master.  It all sounds very confusing. It was something a close friend thought I would find interesting. And I did!!

It showed me results that definitely resonated with me. All but one section definitely is my personality.  And it also showed me some ways to strengthen my weaknesses. Things I will definitely start to do!
So why am I writing about this here? Really, who cares about someone else’s results of a personality test?  

I am not writing about this to share my results.  No. I am writing about how personality traits can make us stronger or weaker as we grow older and explore our self-worth.  

When I was younger, I was very shy. I did well in school but kept to myself a lot. As I went through many struggles in my adult life, my self-esteem grew stronger, I became more assertive and my personality changed. I became the person I am today – in my eyes, I am a strong, self-assured woman who can do anything she wants and be a success at whatever comes my way.

Traveling has changed me.  Seeing different cultures and dealing with situations I never would have had to in Canada have made me humble. 

We take for granted so many things in life. So many of us want material things (and I am not saying anything against that – it’s just not for me), but living in northern China has made me aware of so many struggles these people have on a daily basis that are beyond their control.  Living in the conditions they do have made them stronger than any other culture I have seen so far.

While my complaints of China are many, the strength and perseverance of these people is truly admirable. 

So like the title says, whatever you are be a good one. If you are a neighbour, be a good one. A mother, a daughter, a teacher, whatever it is you are – strive to be a good one. The people here in Changchun have shown me that, despite the conditions they live in, they take it in stride and they are the best they can be. Their personalities shine through. I will take away from this chapter in my life the strength I have seen of the Chinese people. And I am now, and forever will be, a better person because of it.

To err is human…

Translating is a tricky business. You want to make sure that when you translate something, whether it’s a quote from someone famous or something like keep off the grass, the meaning is generally the same.
In China, it is very interesting to read some of the translations. Everyone seems to wear shirts or jackets with some misinterpreted saying on it. 
At the school, they have tried very hard to translate some famous quotes with some amusing (and confusing!) results.

Sometimes, it is the spelling that is the interesting thing to see. I still don’t understand how the people who were in charge got this spelling wrong.  It really is baffling!! (And it’s etched into the wall so you cannot even fix this!)

Oh the things I see!! And read!!

Back to school!!

After a very long winter break, school is back. I missed my students very much and they missed me too!  I impressed them with my growing knowledge of the very difficult language of Mandarin!  Seeing the students again was the highlight of my week. Dealing with adults ~ not so much.

The daily struggle of not being fluent in the language can be so frustrating. Miscommunication is the biggest problem. Arriving at school to teach, getting into the first class only to be told then that grade 1 classes were cancelled for the morning ~ its a problem. The teachers each assume that the others have told me, when in fact no one has.  This was just one of several miscommunication issues of the week.


When you are abroad, its always good to remind yourself to be patient and not expect things to run smoothly every day. And every time something like this happens, I remind myself that I am here for the kids, they love me and I love them. 

Second semester is here, and I am so happy to be back !!  I will just remind myself every day that seeing the kids smiles and getting hugs is worth every issue I need to deal with.

Learning Chinese ~ the struggle continues

Moving to a new country poses many problems and challenges, but one of the most important things one must do is to try to learn at least the basics of the country’s language. Therefore, Mandarin has been my challenge this school break!


I have been taking Chinese lessons and it has been quite the challenge! Mandarin is not easy to learn. The tones are the hardest things to remember. But I am proud to say that I have been able to learn a few of the basic words ~ hello, thank you, how much is this, numbers and other easy words. 

I have made it a goal of mine that wherever I travel I need to learn the basics. I did the best I could in the Czech Republic (another very difficult language to learn!) and most people understood what I was trying to say. The same is happening here. But Chinese are much more forgiving and patient! 



I will be moving on to another country in August and I will be learning some of the new language before I get there!  In the meantime, my Mandarin lessons continue and I will do my best to improve.

For those of us that travel, it really is so important that we make the effort to at least learn to say hello in their language. We would expect the same of foreigners coming to our country. Just remember how difficult it is for them to communicate with us.  And we are never too old to learn something new!!

And if you are in China and are in doubt, just say “ting bu dong” ~ you will make most people laugh and they will realize you don’t know what they are saying! (It means ~ I don’t understand đŸ˜‰ )