Monday, September 02, 2013

Lost in Translation

My son started school yesterday at a Canadian school in our city.  The teachers are Canadian,and the lessons are all in English, even though all of the students except him are ethnically Chinese.  He is the only true foreigner in this "International" school.  It's going to be a bit of a culture shock for him for awhile, but I think he will enjoy it.  He is already enjoying the funny moments that come when the other kids try to communicate in English.

When we went to sign up for classes, the counselor had a hard time finding classes to fill up my son's schedule.  Without consulting my son first, he signed him up for art, I.T., chinese as a second language, and drama.  My son wasn't that happy with these choices, but the elective choices for 10th graders is very limited.  I was quite happy with these classes, and I think that he will end up liking them.

When we picked up my son after school, he said that originally he wasn't happy about being given the drama class, but now he is glad.  He said it ended up being very entertaining watching the teacher trying to communicate with the students.  I think part of the problem is that often people who don't speak a second language do not understand the difficulty understanding idioms and slang.  This teacher wanted the students to practice some acting exercises, so asked them to all "spread out".  The kids had no idea what she was saying.  She said, "Move around and give yourself some personal space."  My son knew immediately that she doesn't understand that the idea of personal space is almost non-existent in China.  People don't have personal space here.  It is so crowded, that people aren't allowed the luxury of personal space.  So the kids still didn't know what she was saying!  The teacher had to finally move among them and help them to spread out.  My son just chuckled the whole time.  At least he is enjoying himself.....


Max Coutinho said...

Hi D,

I suspect it will be a very entertaining year for your son.

International schools are great schools. By the time those Chinese kids finish the high school programme, they won't even recognise themselves. I bet it is being quite a journey for them.

I wish your son and his class-mates a fantastic school year.


Grannymar said...

This is such a cultural shock for your son, I do hope he adjusts and comes through with flying colours.

Amber said...

those do sound like good classes! I hope he has a good year and makes friends! :)

blackwatertown said...

Interesting observation about the personal space cultural difference.

Looney said...

I think he is going to have a lot of fun with it. What is the ratio of boys to girls in his classes?