Does this world map look odd to you? It won't to any Chinese readers, but those from other countries might wonder why China appears in the centre rather than Britain (London is, after all, at 0°longitude). Well, "China" in Chinese (中国) translates as "Middle Kingdom", so all Chinese maps place their country in the middle of the world! I guess Britain did the same when we imposed our maps on the world.
So Chinese maps have the annoying effect of squashing all the land masses around the edge. And when you teach directions, as I had to this week, it all gets a bit confusing. China is in the Far East, despite being in the middle. Europe is on the left, in the West, yet America is on the right, also in the West. I asked a Chinese teacher how students cope with having two Wests and no East. She said she'd never noticed and students just learn about China geography anyway! It does help explain my students' woeful world knowledge. "Africa is in Brazil", according to one this week.
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