Writing on balloons, learning about US culture, all while speaking and listening to English.
I learn all my students’ English names and call them by name in class. I let them know that I know them personally.
We make paper dolls, snowflakes, test the student’s water (you can’t drink the tap water in China, so everything must be boiled or filtered), go to karaoke, visit local gardens, do improv, play Simone/Simon Says and Musical Chairs, plus I hire former students to be my Teacher’s Assistants...
We also go on field trips to the school’s bathrooms and leave antibacterial soap and signs that say “Please wash your hands with soap” because in many bathrooms in China there is no hot water, soap, or paper towels. Hygiene is important in a country of 1.4 billion.
My last term read and discussed my novel 催化剂/Catalyst (translated by Maggie Li 李琪).
I care about learning and safety! Anyone who promises to wear a helmet gets a free one.
I have also taken about 400 students and others through Lin Biao’s 林彪 的 bunker at Nan Yuan Bin Guan 南园宾馆, Chiang Kai Chek’s 蒋介石的 old home (the man who started Taiwan), which is now a hotel and where I lived for 1.5 years.
I have taken many students to Master of Nets Garden 网师园. It’s my favorite. 这个是我的最爱。
At dinner, students get to socialize in a way not usually done in China: with their teacher and some of their classmates. English gets practiced as well as politeness, manners, and critical thinking.
Being comfortable in the water is important when learning to swim. I take as many students as I safely can (5 or 6, depending upon their previous swimming experience) to Suzhou’s Intercontinental hotel because it has the largest jacuzzi with warm water.
Swimming is a lifesaving skill.
And “not, (opposite)” 非, though structurally different than the other characters that represent wings, still represents the impossibility of flying by contributing to words that carry a metaphorical meaning of “soaring high”: caffeine 咖啡, morphine 吗啡, methamphetamine 甲基安非他命, endorphin 内啡素, a virility drug 西地那非, and “to let one’s mind run wild” 想入非非.