A peaceful oasis in the midst of the traffic, noise, and rapidly-rising skyscrapers of the center city: a small park that I found by accident, and a much-needed place for some contemplation. Eating and talking at the same time The great thing about teaching is that you are continually learning new things. For example, as a Chinese learner I’m continually reminded of the difficulties that my own students face in their process of learning English. I was eating lunch today – stir-fried rice with shredded pork and green pepper – after a much-needed massage to relieve some of the pain in my upper back and neck. A lady joined me at my table, as the place was full, and proceeded to chat with me. I realized later that I probably knew about 20 – 30% of the Chinese words she used – enough to catch the general meaning – but that I was used to seeing them in a textbook, or hearing them come out of my teacher’s mouth, and not a stranger’s. I “knew” the words, but hadn’t transferred them into the frontal whatchamacallit of my brain, the place where easily-accessible and ready-to-use words and expressions are stored. Yes, there’s “deep” storage and “right now” storage for language. Plus, my affect was in the way: that’s your resistance or discomfort or just plain panic at being talked to by a stranger. My initial reaction is “I’m not ready for this; it’s too real!” I survived. Get over yourself!
narrow lane of old houses, near 文殊坊 Wenshufang, Chengdu
Old tree, 水井坊 Shuijingfang area, Chengdu “Life isn’t some vertical or horizontal line. You have your own interior world, and it’s not neat. Therefore the importance and the beauty of music, sound, noise. When you go outside and you’re hearing…hundreds of different sounds…all of these things are potentially beautiful.” Patti Smith, in A Dream of Life It’s been while since I posted anything. It isn’t just being busy – I am, with my schedule so spread-out that I have classes six days a week – but I’ve felt that I had nothing to say. Other people seem to have quite a lot to say; I’ve spent some time reading a few excellent teaching blogs, and some well-written and perceptive film blogs. The past couple of weeks have produced some indelible images. First, there was the horrifying footage of the tsunami that devastated Japan’s coastal areas and swept away entire communities. The online videos of buildings, cars, and people’s lives being carried away by surging waters left me dumbstruck. Then, there were the continuing images of damaged nuclear power plants, unleashing a manmade, not natural, devastation upon the world. I was tremendously encouraged by the images of the pro-worker uprising in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Increasingly marginalized by totalitarian corporate rulers, people are finally responding with a mass, democratic movement. In spite of our government’s double-speak of “spreading democracy” via warfare and state-sponsored terror, the people taking to the streets are showing what democracy is really about. In a quieter, more contemplative vein, I’ve watched