I've just finished the mid-term exams at my University, which was a 2-minute interview with each of my 200 students on the subject of "My greatest challenge". A few were quite conversant, most were mediochre (the same old mistakes, again and again) and a handful were a total waste of time. The week before, I had given them the topic, some useful phrases and vocabulary, and time to practise. Yet many of them replied with "Shenme? What?" when I started by asking them, "What was your greatest challenge?", as if it was some sort of trick question. Some just giggled for two minutes. Others stared blankly as if trying to conjure up words which they really could have (should have) prepared. One told me her greatest challenge was "death". When I questioned it, she changed it to "deaf". On further investigation, it turned out to be "diving"!? Dozens told me that riding a rollercoaster was the greatest challenge they had ever faced - such sheltered lives! Another told me his greatest challenge was .... a word I couldn't understand. When I asked him to repeat it, he just kept saying the same mangled word again and again. I asked him to tell me more about it. Two minutes later, I was none the wiser about what he was talking about. The most bizarre moment was when one student simply handed me a note in English saying, "Sorry teacher, I learned Russian. I can't speak any English at all. My friend wrote this for me." Am I supposed to pass her?
I love this Chinglish, which I spotted recently. Sometimes, I feel like a mud teacher, but is my diatom oozing, I wonder?
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