Beginning today, I’ll gladly do pro bono language lessons in the following languages for the following bodies in the following countries:
Bodies: National railways, city metro, transport police, visas, and immigration.
Languages and Countries: English for China (with future option of German, French, Italian, and, at a much later date, Rumantsch); English and Chinese for Switzerland.
And the reason(s) why? In bullet-point form, real quick, here’s why:
- The 2014 Handbook of Everyday English for Beijing, a work of a whole smorgasbord of language and media experts, had me deeply involved in the project. It was a great project to work together on — we met with some of the most knowledgeable experts in the field, which included translators at the Chinese Foreign Ministry and at key national universities. I did much of the translation and a fair load of the proofreading, as well as the VOs and video show presentations (hopefully they’ll be live soon).
- That Handbook had a lot of content which was precisely related to public transit, visas and immigration, and how the police are asked questions by visitors. I’ve also been through many of these (over a million kilometres in 220+ cities across 24 countries / territories); I’m now on my sixth passport). ▶
I’m pleased to be part of a very unique course here at the University of Westminster — the MA module, China’s Media and the Emerging World Order, will see my involvement as module co-leader, with the respected Prof Hugo de Burgh as module leader. Just yesterday, we had our very first module, where we briefed students in class.
These lessons will be given every Thursday afternoon at the Harrow Campus of the university, and I’ve already pledged to give two lectures in the module, as well as encourage and lead debate on late-breaking China media developments. My bit will be about China’s Babel: New Media, to be given later this month, as well as a March presentation on social media in China.
Interestingly enough, a sizeable proportion of students are actually from Mainland China, but there’s also quite a few from other places. It will be quite an interesting lesson for students interested in seeing how the rest of the world sees China media. ▶
It took me over 10 years of Chinglish-gazing around the country to be shown the right people to that one classroom in the Foreign Affairs Office of Beijing’s most internationalised district, Chaoyang, where people came in the evening hours of 15 July 2014, to listen to me speak about Chinglish — and how to fix it. (Chaoyang is the home of the Beijing Olympic Green, just about all embassies in town, and the showcase CBD.) This was my first go at teaching an “all-government” audience, but if you could hold a mic in front of thousands of unknown faces, you could do the same in front of 20 mandarins. ▶
Or at least I do. Happy that the Swiss managed to sneak in a goal that led them to victory in the final minute against Ecuador, I donned on a T-shirt with the Swiss flag the next day, to show that I was proud of “my gang”. It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate moment: we were going to be visiting Beijing’s Olympic Green, the National Stadium included!
My role in this: team leader and Foreign Expert. (My non-Chinese passport made me “foreign”.) It’s the latter that is the job of mystery here in China, the stuff that some expats will proudly showcase — until they realise they are all Foreign Experts. ▶
I am academically involved here at the Communication University of China with lessons and research underway — and as part of these commitments, I was asked to give two seminars to International Media students here for their MA. The specific lesson I presented was in Theories of Communication.
We had upwards of around 30 students, and students were basically from all over the world — Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. It was my task to present two lessons to them, which I did with pleasure:
- Special Lecture: Social Media and China: This was easily my trademark lesson, where I told students how social media worked in China — and I could easily pull this off, as I had years of experience.
- Media Matters! The Role of Media in Information Society: This was as “theoretical” as was “practical”, and as my PhD dissertation didn’t stray away too far from this, I could merge experience with theory. ▶
I’ve a little edu-related dynamite for our fellow readers: One of the most influential teachers I have ever had — and I say this as a teacher-to-be starting in about week’s time — has been honoured by the European Council of International Schools for services to international education, and that someone is none other than Mr Greaves from the Inter-Community School Zürich in Switzerland.
I bumped into him for the first time in 5th grade as a pretty strict teacher. He wasn’t happy that I was making a racket all the time on the school bus. But when he met my parents, he introduced himself in a very civilised, gracious manner. Rather than in essence rip me to shreds over my misbehaviour, he guided me — sometimes with strict standards, but always for the better — on how to become a better boy at school.
It was not all too easy getting praise from Mr Greaves. (Back then I used my Chinese Pinyin romanisation name, “Yan”.) But if I caught Mr Greaves on my way back from the toilet clapping his hands and going Yan the Man, Yan the Man halfway down the alley, that was a dead giveaway I had done something good. ▶
So, September 2012 is here. I’ve just entered China a few days back on a Z visa, or a working visa. I’m going to both be a kind of generic-alised “English teacher in China” and also a little more. I’m going to head to the Communication University of China as a Lecturer so that I can do a little academic research as a side schtick as well. My topics: new media and social media.
But here’s the thing: a teacher is not the smartest thing in the universe. There’s: (a) sure bound to be extraterrestrial life that knows more than we do (I think); (b) people who are not teachers that know more stuff than teachers do. So I’m cutting it short here — yes, I’ll be a teacher, but I’m not gonna outfox anyone. In fact, I’ll be pretty happy when folks outfox me. That’ll also be the case a few years down the line when the baby is due (or babies are due, rather): I’m perfectly OK with these guys being smarter than I am from Day One. ▶
I’m now safely back in Beijing.
I have to say — I’m having one of these days when I don’t really want to sleep, despite not doing it for something like 24 hours or so already. The past two weeks were filled to the brim with adventures and “flashbacks”, and memories. Things that have been with you for twelve full years and that simply refuse to go away.
Things like my former school, ICS (the Inter-Community School Zürich). That place started me off in 1st grade. The end of my PhD programme was the end of “22nd grade”, of sorts, for me. So I thought it would be a perfect way to head back to the place that I started 1st grade with — just to say hello to the teachers that made it all possible. ▶
I, David Feng, would like to announce that I have gratefully accepted a teaching job offer from the Communication University of China as foreign education expert (teacher). Lessons will begin September 2012 and I will be teaching mainly undergraduates and MA candidates, as well as other students, English, Western culture, and media, in particular new media. My academic rank is expected to be that of Lecturer (equivalent to Assistant Professor in the United States of America). The language of instruction shall be English.
I am indebted to this University for the chance, its gracefulness and the opportunity to teach and inspire the young minds of tomorrow. I will selflessly educate and inspire young aspiring media talent with the aggregate of my experience and professional knowledge. I shall teach all that is fit to be taught, within the Constitution of China and the principles it may enshrine.
I shall have no goals other than to ensure that the true winners from my educational and academic commitments shall be the students, and that the winners from all my commitments shall be society at large.▶
I’m telling ya, I haven’t always had good impressions of quite a few textbooks (the one my mum bought me in Hong Kong about maths in primary school was a disaster, with super-crazy names of fictitious people all over the place), but at least I let ’em survive. I did throw away one book — the one I had for my MA in linguistics and media presenting — because the guy that authored it was an arrogant brat. No, seriously.
But as of late, I’ve been taking a good look at a kind of snow — you got that one right — a kind of snow — as in snowstorm — in a campus in central China. Turns out these were books that overworked students ripped out in anger as their university entrance exams were approaching. It was quite a sight.
Seriously, though, this is but the tip of the iceberg in the disaster that has become the Chinese educational world. The edu system in China is a mess. ▶