Monday, September 28, 2009

China's Lost Girls

Intrigued by the cover story on L.A Times 2 weekends ago (see previous blog entry on Sept. 28th), I rented this documentary from Netflix. It's a short documentary (43 mins), so it doesn't delve into a deeper level of the "one-child policy" consequences (or aftermath?!). However, if you're interested to know how the "one-child policy" affect China on its 30th anniversary (yes, the policy started in 1979), or you want to know how it feels like to adopt a baby girl from China, this film satisfy your curiosity.

The film is well-produced by National Geographic. I actually cried a few times while watching this film. I was planning to create a lesson plan (use 2 hours) combining this documentary with the cover story on LA times for my high schoolers after Moon Festival (or after their first test).

Adopt a baby girl from China?

I knew there's something unusual going on when I saw that many Chinese-looking baby girls in Disneyland for the past 3 years...This is a long article. Prepare for 10-15 mins to finish it.Or, not finish it.

The cover story on last Sunday's L.A. Times:,0,491086.story

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hope vs Nope

Saw these 2 bumper stickers on Santa Monica beach last Sunday...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chinese Rhyme Contest

After working in this new private school for about 3 weeks, I finally did something I think it's fun and inspiring for the students-- we had our 1st Chinese rhyme contest.

Contestants: 17 7th graders
Level: Beginning
Textbook: Huanyin Volume 1, Part 1
Class hours required: 2 hours & 10 mins (one regular 50-min class, one 80-min long block class hour)
Materials: Youtube video clip on Smartboard, peer review sheet

I chose 5 short rhymes on Huanyin workbook; one of them is the famous "Two Tigers" (liang3zhi1 lao3hu3)

Step 1 Warm Up:
I first let the students watch a video clip on youtube. With its vivid illustration and the famous tune of French "Bruder Jackob", students could understand and sing along with "Liang3 Zhi1 Lao3hu3" after a few times.

Step 2 Practicing:
Read out loud: Go through each rhyme without explaining the meaning too much, since this is just a practice for them to work on pin-yin sounds and 4 tones. I randomly assigned each individual to read out loud for each short phrase first, then correct their pronunciation.

Step 3 Strengthening:
Repeat after me: Then I asked all students to repeat after me for each single rhyme, and I gave them 5 mins choose their favorite one to practice on their own. I also let the students listen to the on-line audio clips for a different accent and speed, so they can get used to different Chinese speakers.

After these steps, most students should have listened to the same rhyme for about 3~10 times (depends on how much they have really listened into their minds...)

Step 4 Preparation time: I gave the student a weekend, and the following Monday to prepare for the contest. They can also listen to the on-line audio clips provided by the publisher at home.

On the day of the contest, each student drew a lot (chou1 qian1)to decide the order of their performance. I also give each students 2 peer review sheets (see image), so they can grade each others' works (which the students love a LOT). I suggested them not to abuse their power of being a judge, and encouraged them to give decent & honest comments to their fellow classmates.

During the contest, each student came up to the front of the class, bring (or not) their own rhyme sheet, and chant (or sing) it out loud, starting with a brief self-introduction, ending with a thank you and bow.

The result if fun.
Overall, most students gave away pretty positive comments to other students. For example: "I can tell you have prepared a lot for this..."; "I think you need to practice more on xxx..."; "You seem to lack of confidence...."; "Don't slouch when you're on stage..."; "You forgot to bow...."....many amazing comments.

3 students held the same 3rd place. The students held the 2nd and the 1st place were only 0.2 point away... very intense competition.

I also taped some students' performances with their prior permission. And I played it on Smartboard at the beginning of the next class. Some of them felt as if they were famous now, some felt a bit embarrassed. Very diverse and mixed emotions toward public performance. But, by doing this, they get to see how good they were to speak a foreign language in public, and proved their confidence to be filmed--which, needs a lot of courage for 13-year-old girls.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Different Ads, different psyche

My friend M took a very "modest" Chinese "egg custard" ad in Shanghai this summer, and posted it on her blog. It says: "Macao's Lilian egg custard 'probably' is the best custard in Shanghai".

Weeks later, I found another not-too-modest ad printed on a menu of a restaurant in Santa Monica, which responds to the Chinese ad very well. The American ad says: "Omelette Parlor 'probably' (which is crossed out) the best omelettes in the west".
Just an interesting find.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Restroom Signs part II

More signs I took in June, 08, Taiwan.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Restroom Signs

I have been travelling a lot for the past 2 months... finally got some time to update my blog!

My currently 8-year-old super-cute niece has been visiting me in the U.S. once a year since the age of 4. I taught her some survival English sentences while she was here (those English lessons they taught in kindergarten NEVER comes handy in real life...).

One important thing to ask is knowing how to go to the bathroom. So, I taught her: "Excuse me, where is the bathroom?"

Then, when you arrive in front of the bathrooms, try to recognize the sings printed on either door (if, unfortunately, they don't have the universal icons on the doors, e.g. pipe/tie for men, skirt/high heels for women). If you see W-O-M-E-N, which means girls, then you can go in. And the way to remember women is easy. The word women starts with a "W", which looks like women's breasts, then "O" look like a pretty face a woman has.

So, there she goes without any problem at all time. Until one day, she returned with an anxious facial expression.

"What's wrong? You couldn't find the bathroom?"
"No", she said, "I found it."
"So, what's the problem?"
" I couldn't find the word you told me on the door. I didn't know which one to go into..."

I followed her to the bathroom. And see only one word on each door, without any icons or graphs.


I pointed to the right one, and asked her while she was doing her business:
"Ning-zi", I said, " Now you still think you're too busy to take English classes?"

I'm glad to know that her mom has already enrolled her in an English class, starting this September. Hopefully, she'll be more literate when she visits me next year.

Same thing in Chinese. Sure I always taught my students to ask:
"Qing wen, ce suo zai na?" before they traveled to China as one of their survival Chinese sentences, and how to recgonize the words "nan(2) 男”and "nu(3) 女". But, look at the following signs I took on the bathroom doors in Taiwan.

Which one(s) you can't tell right away?