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Chinese from foreign tongues

  • Source: Global Times
  • [10:37 March 24 2011]
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Laowai

When Melanie Danchisko, 27, started teaching in front of her class of second graders at a Beijing international school, two twins were amazed.

"Wow, a laowai can speak Chinese," one of them said. The other responded, "Do you think she grew up speaking it, or do you think she learned it?"

Danchisko recalled this story with a laugh. She said her foreign students always ask where she comes from, but never question her credentials. The native speakers, on the other hand, like to tease her.

"For the Chinese students, if they find out you don't know something and they do, they make fun of me. 'How do you not know this poem we memorized when we were younger?'"

She is teaching first and second graders how to write. Her biggest fear is being asked how to write a character she doesn't know.

She said faculty members have complimented her on her good pronunciation, but if she mispronounces a word to a student, they repeat it back to her. "They are politely trying to correct me."

Danchisko's dream is translating English children's books into Chinese. "The teaching is fun, but I think the translation is more interesting at this point," she says.

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