Tonight I had my adult students. Now, I don’t really like teaching adults because they have all the idiosyncrasies of my middle school students (refusal to speak above a whisper, inability to separate “L” and “R” but an insistence that “z” is pronounced “Zed”, total lack of subject-verb agreement) but they can’t be bought off with a little Harry Potter trivia. Also they don’t like to play games and they don’t tell me they want to grow up to be like me.
Last time, I asked my students to write a paragraph about their worst travel experience. First we needed to go over what a paragraph was, and then they all insisted they had no bad travel experiences. “Who remembers bad times?” one woman asked. I begged them to please try to remember a travel horror story.
Tonight, I asked them to read their homework. Will had warned me that this would be a slow, painful lesson because most Chinese don’t really travel (except for New Years and May Day when the entire country goes to see their moms). I planned to tell about getting stuck in Beijing with Jeff and Fresca, to get the travel-disaster ball rolling, but my students topped me. One student told me a story about staying in a bug-infested hotel. Another said she snuck onto a train and hid from the police. A third bribed her way onto a sold-out sleeping car.
We read and listened to a story about a bad vacation. It was bad in the British or American sense of bad, which means the plane was delayed 10 hours and our heroes had to sleep in the airport. At the end of class, I asked the students to write a complaint letter to an airline, hotel or travel agent about this bad vacation, explaining what went wrong and asking for a refund.
The faster students explained it to the slower ones and then one man said “But Meg, we don’t do this in China.”