Thursday, April 21, 2011

Middle Earth in the Middle Kingdom, or How my Students are Smarter than Me

I am teaching a lesson about Chinese food to Jeff.  I've just shown him a picture of a bowl of Egg Flower Soup made in the good ol' USA.

Me: So, is this like the soup in China?
Jeff: Kind of.  The eggs look wrong.
Me: What's different about them?
I know very well what's different, but it's good practice for Jeff to explain it to me, so I play dumb.  How can he complain about his food in the States like a true American if I don't teach him now?
Jeff: In China we add's not in my dictionary.
Me: Maybe you can describe it to me.
Jeff: It turns blue when you add iodine.
Me: Um, what?
Jeff: Iodine?
Me: Iodine...
Jeff: Yeah, when you add iodine to it it turns blue.
Me: The only food I can think of with iodine is salt.
Jeff: No, not salt.  When we add it to Chinese soup it makes it thicker and the shape of the eggs is more beautiful, really like flowers.
Me: Thinking of Peter cooking. Starch?  Corn starch?
Jeff: Yes!  Starch.  We add more starch.
Me: You know, iodine is not where I would have started trying to explain cornstarch.
Jeff: You're welcome.

Talking with Stan before the Chinese food lesson.  This conversation took place in Chinese.

Stan: I really like blah blah blah.
Me: You like hot and sour diarrhea?
Stan: I like hot and sour soup.  SOUP!

My students aren't always clear on the difference between "hobby" and "habit."  They mix up both the words and the meanings.  Occasionally, my nerdly heart soars when they ask me:

What's your hobbit?

 Bruce is Party Animal's best friend.  The two of them are going to London together to study English and then go to high school.

Bruce: I like cars, but I don't like buses.
Me: Why is that?
Bruce: Have you been on the bus in Xi'an?  Those drivers think they're driving race cars, not buses.
Me: I couldn't have said it better myself.

My last lesson with Party Animal.  We are doing a lesson entitled For or Against?  The legal driving age in China is 18, and there is no age limit for buying/drinking alcohol or buying/smoking cigarettes.

 Me: Are you for lowering the driving age to 15?
Party Animal: No.
Me: But if it were lowered then you could drive.
Party Animal: I don't think I can see over the steering wheel.  (It's true.)
Me:, what do you think the legal age for driving should be?
Party Animal: 20.
Me: Really?  I know you like cars.  That's a long time to wait to drive.
Party Animal: I know.  I'm not ready.  My mom wouldn't let me drive, anyway.
Me:  Probably true.  Are you for or against a legal age for smoking cigarettes?
Party Animal: For.  I think it should be twenty as well.  They're not good for young people.
Me: Well, they're not good for anybody.
Party Animal: Yeah, but by 20 if they don't know better it's too late.
Me: Do you think there should be a legal drinking age for alcohol?
Party Animal: What's alcohol?
Me: Beer wine, and hard liquor like baijou.  (Baijou tastes like coconut flavored nail polish remover and is the way the Chinese punish unsuspecting tourists.)
Party Animal: I think the drinking age should be 20 also.  No, wait...
Me: Yes?
Party Animal: I think it should be 20 for beer and wine and 30 for hard liquor.
Me: Will you be running for president any time soon?  I think I'd vote for you.
Apparently-Not-Such-A Party Animal: Leaping to his feet and running to the window.  Dude!  I just saw a Lamborghini!

1 comment:

G1_Moondancer_Pony said...

Those are wonderful stories! Keep them coming. I still have to try the orange chicken recipe though.