10 May 2010

'France is not in Europe'

From an interview with educators from China, who are teaching their language in American high schools with the help of a government subsidy:

Ms. Zheng said she spent time clearing up misconceptions about China.

“I want students to know that Chinese people are not crazy,” she said. For instance, one of her students, referring to China’s one-child-per-family population planning policy, asked whether the authorities would kill one of the babies if a Chinese couple were to have twins.

Some students were astonished to learn that Chinese people used cellphones, she said. Others thought Hong Kong was the capital [...]

That afternoon, Ms. Zheng taught classes at Central Middle School, drilling 22 eighth graders on how to count to 100 in Chinese and explaining some Chinese holidays before turning her back to write a Chinese tongue twister on the board.

Out of the blue, a girl with long brown hair asked her classmates loudly: “Where’s France at?”

“In Europe,” a boy with baggy jeans called out from across the room.

“France is not in Europe,” another boy said. Ms. Zheng just kept writing Chinese characters on the board.

“American students don’t know a lot about the outside world,” she said later. “Mostly just what they see here.”

Ms. Zheng says she is hoping to do her part by teaching them more than how to write characters.

- New York Times, 9 May 2010

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