Category Archives: Hobu

Riding home in the “mianbaoche” (van)

I love the Chinese word for van “mianbaoche” which actually means “bread car”. This word is fun to say and I have perfected it enough so people understand what I am saying. I guess bread is delivered in little vans so generally that is where the name originated.

So yesterday I rode in a 7 seat van which is owned by the school so a couple girls were able to accompany me for the 40 minute drive back to the apartment.

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Their English is exceptional as  they were able to answer all my questions and tell me about their lives.  They take 11 subjects a week including, English, chemistry, physics, politics, math, PE, art. Subjects such as art and music are once or twice a week. As I mentioned these girls go to school from 7:20 to 9:00 pm. at night with a break for lunch and dinner. They also attend school on Saturdays. When I asked about the freedom of the summer they both mentioned they would be attending school in another city to perfect their English. WHAT! No summer vacation. I think US students would not look upon this so favorably.

Occupations in China

Yesterday we talked about occupations that my students might consider when they are thinking about their future.  I showed the poster and cut out many pictures from the newspaper of different careers.  Considering each one we talked about whether it would involve more schooling.

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It was very interesting to hear each student stand up and recite what career path they would like to fulfill.

Teacher, to help clever students

Zoo Keeper, to take care of the wonderful animals such as the panda bear

Businessman and Banker,  to make lots of money

Driver, to help people get around

Travel agent, guide, interpreter, to travel and see the country and speak English

Pilot, to see the world

Lawyer, This young man wants to be a lawyer in the US so he can make lots of money to buy a big house for his mom and dad to live in. I asked if he wanted to be a lawyer in China in which he replied no, I would rather live in the US.  I wish him the best.

I loved this picture of the pharmacist. The students had a difficult time understanding the concept of a pharmacist so I am not sure about that career in China.  I can’t decide if this picture has any resemblance to my pharmacist daughter Patricia!!!  :)

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I hope they are able to achieve their dreams for the future.

My students

Yesterday I taught the students the name for the following animals. I found this book in Beijing and it has been a great resource for me.

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With China being such a huge country, it was interesting for me  to find out that many of these animals are found in China. They enjoyed learning the names of  the baby animals. One boy had watched the movie “Nemo” so he recognized the clown fish.

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I finally remembered to take some pics when the students were singing “Imagine”.

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Some of the English teachers

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I think the students are doing a great job as this was only the third time singing the song.

You almost forget that they are just learning English.


Yesterday in class, I taught the students the song “Imagine”. I have recently been watching the first season of “Glee” and loved their version of “Imagine” so I made a copy of the song to take to class.

Simon was sent on a mission to find some blank CD’s and  poster board to write the lryics on. A difficult task, and Mark did not have any large pieces of paper so I taped a few pieces of paper together. Mark only had a fine sharpie so going over the words a couple times used up that marker.

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It turned into an educational activity discussing the  meaning of such words as “imagine, greed, brotherhood, sharing, dreamer.” Fascinating to hear the students define the words, and lovely to hear them sing the song. They are very talented in reading so they were all able to read the words, and just needed a little help with the pronunciation.   A little more practice and they will have it mastered and all without the help of chicken or ketchup chips!!!

Teaching again :)

Last week after waiting for many months  to get back into the classroom, I started my volunteer job.  It is at a middle school in Hobu which is the mining town where Mark’s company headquarters is located. I have been told the population is around 25,000 people which is close to the size of the city I am from in Utah.

I am teaching around 40 students who range in age from 14 to 16 years old, with a good mix of boys and girls. Their grade level consists of over 500 students so only the top students were chosen to be in my class. At the school there are around 15 Chinese teachers who teach them English so I usually have a few of them attending the class also. For many of the teachers and students I am the first “real” English speaking person they have met.  Much of the emphasis is put on reading and writing English. I bet their knowledge of grammar is far superior to mine. Xueer has been able to do some translating which has been helpful since it is a 40 minute drive to the school and the same on the way home. I actually spend more time in the car as I am only at the school for one hour. The school has a  car and driver who transports me back and forth. When I mentioned to the teacher that our schools do not have cars and drivers he was amazed. Just a thing that is done in China. A different student will take the drive home with me which gives them an extra chance to converse.

I volunteer on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4:30 to 5:30 so as not to conflict with their regular classes.  I thought they were staying after school for my class, so needless to say I was shocked to hear that their school day starts at 7:20 and goes until 9:30 at night.  Yes, you read that correctly as I asked a few different teachers and got the same answer.

My job is to help with oral communication and the pronunciation of words which I find quite enjoyable to walk around the room and talk to each student. Our first lesson was on “family” so I brought pictures of my kids, my parents, siblings, nieces, nephews. The students love to see the pictures and it has helped to know a few Chinese words that I can throw in to help with communication.

The next lesson was on clothes, which was fun to teach about zippers, plaid, stripes, bracelets, rings, sandals, pony tails.

Last week we talked about American “comfort” food as I had a big calendar which included great pictures. I first asked what they knew of American food, the answers were “hamburger, pizza, hot dog, french fries, ice cream, milk shake”. Finally someone mentioned “apple”, at least one heatlhy food. A few commented that the food we eat is not the healthiest and perhaps that is why America has so many overweight people.

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They thought the pancakes looked great.

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A first look at chocolate chip cookies.

food 003Xueer and I decided to treat them each to a chocolate chip cookie, so we spent the morning making 5 dozen cookies. A learning experience for Xueer as most kitchens in China to do not have an oven, so no place to bake cookies. Their kitchen would have a wok to cook in.

The students found the cookies “delicious” a word they like to use. Only one boy refused a cookie so I would call that a success.

Yesterday I taught the students about Western holidays so once again Mark printed pictures for me to take to class. If I could only have easy access to all my things at home. Improvising is the name of the game. It was great fun looking at some older pictures to take.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Joan's eyes 022They had a difficult time figuring out we were crayons, not a common item here.

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They did not understand “witch” until I grabbed a broom from the corner and pretended to ride it. A good laugh for everyone.

Brandon as penguinI guess it is universal to love a picture of a child. I was shocked when someone yelled out “jack-o-lantern”. Brought back many memories of me trying to teach my little class that word.

After we talked about all the holidays, there were given an opportunity to tell what their favorite holiday might be. I loved to hear “Thanksgiving” so they could tell what they were thankful for and perhaps the chance to eat turkey. A food that is not common in China, as none of the students have ever had it.

It is great to back in the classroom teaching again. I think next week I will give one lesson on Olympics (yeah Canada). I  will be able to take some of my hats and pins to show.