At the minute…

Again, apologies for my late blog, especially to my good friend Andrew, one of my (few) regular readers. In my defence, I am still waiting for his blog to be set up. Actually, it is a weak defence. I saved my first draft of this blog post on 22nd August, which is over a month ago. I’ll write about what I’ve been up to in a month’s time.

My stint as an English teacher had made me more self-conscious about my spelling and grammar. I’ve also noticed how the English language has changed during my 18 months in China. Obviously, there are new words such as:

  • Credit crunch
  • Sub-prime
  • Collateralized debt obligation
  • iPhone
  • Macrogolisation – the realisation of some old truths about money:
    • cannot keep borrowing it forever
    • it does not grow on trees
    • people do want it back

OK, the list is not comprehensive and says a lot more about my interests. Plus I made the last one up after looking up the ingredients for the moisturiser I use.

The phrase that I have thought about the most is “at the minute”. When I first heard it I thought it sounded completely incorrect, yet, it seems (and probably is) grammatically sound.

Which wordsmith first came up with this phrase?

Last Day Teaching


I’ve turned in my textbooks; cleared my desk; moved my photo to the “Former Teachers” wall. I hope that my students learnt some English and didn’t get bored by my jokes.

Teaching was an enjoyable experience because teachers are respected in China. Imparting knowledge to other is a satisfying experience for most people. Below are some thoughts about it all:

  • Ban on Chinese – I banned Chinese in the classroom to the point of screaming at students to use English only. This is a fundamental law in teaching theory. However, some days I gave up because there seemed to be no other way to teach. Some students can’t seem to escape thinking in Chinese.
  • Differences in Western and Chinese learning styles – My lessons are proactive and encourage students to talk as much as possible and ask questions. Traditionally, the Chinese students learn by passively listening to the teacher. Should a Western language be taught in a Western style?
  • Chinese English Teachers I’ve met students that have been learning English since before I was born but have not managed to go beyond the elementary levels. This reflects the lack of native teachers in Chinese primary schools and the emphasis on reading and writing, rather than communication.
  • Whiteboard or blackboard? – You decide.
  • Do good students overcome bad teachers, or do good teachers overcome bad students? – I’m saying that learning language is a partnership between student and teacher.
  • English is definitely harder to learn than Chinese.

If any former students wish to make a complaint then please leave a comment below: