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If You Tell Him What It Means China Will Censor It

, , , , , , | Learning | November 14, 2019

(I am an American working as an English teacher in China. I am working with a class of five five-year-olds through the unit on describing the rooms of a house. With us is a local young woman who translates and assists me as needed. At the beginning of today’s lesson, I review the names of the rooms with the basic sentence structure using our large flash cards. Towards the end of the review, the class clown starts messing around.)

Me: *holds up card* “What is this?”

Four Students: “It’s the kitchen!”

Class Clown: “[My Name] is in the kitchen!”

Me: *holds up next card* “What is this?”

Four Students: “It’s the living room!”

Class Clown: “[My Name] is in the living room!”

(The review is now over, but I decide to give myself something to chuckle about with my coworkers later.)

Me: *holds up the closet card* “[Class Clown], what is this?”

Class Clown: “[My Name] is in the closet!”

(Usually, the locals that work with us part time have a fluent understanding of English but do not understand colloquial expressions, and I assume that this will slip by my TA, but it turns out, I underestimated my current TA. She cracks up when she hears [Class Clown] “outing” me.)

Me: *To the TA* “Oh, you know what that means?”

TA: *nodding while laughing*

(This creates a problem for me. [Class Clown] realizes he has said something funny. [Class Clown] loves nothing more than to be funny. [Class Clown] is not going to forget something he said that made him funny, even if he doesn’t understand it. For the remaining weeks I have with them, he will randomly shout at me, “[My Name] is in the closet!” Even when they graduate from this level and move into another class, it does not end. Sometimes, we pass each other in the halls or in the waiting area, where there are many teachers, employees, and parents, and he points at me and yells:)

Class Clown: “[My Name] is in the closet!”

Me: *sighing* “I deserve this.”

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