Saturday, 13 December 2008

Time is Money

On Friday night I was invited to talk with two children -- a brother and sister -- who will be moving to England next year to study. You may be confused that I am in the country of the one child policy and was visiting a brother and sister, but apparently a lot of money can literally buy you another child. Most cannot afford it as the fee can reach the millions for a second child. Anyway, back on topic. I didn't want to go to their home on my own, so asked Kimi to accompany me -- I never would have found their apartment on my own anyway. We took a taxi to the building, made our way to the twenty fourth floor, and knocked on the door. A large teenage boy opened the door and didn't say a word. We were guided into what I thought would be an expensively decorated apartment. In reality it was considerably worse than my own apartment, but with much more space.

We sat on the white sofa, Kimi and I looking at each other with a sense of bewilderment -- nothing was happening. A second later, a young girl ran into the living room and dashed into her bedroom. Their ai yi (housekeeper/nanny) brought us a cup of green tea each, at which point Kimi asked where the mother was. Apparently she had just left the apartment to find me a suitable drink: coffee. Why tea wasn't good enough for me, I don't know.

Minutes later the mother returned with a box of instant Nescafe in hand. Immediately the ai yi was summoned to make it for me, although she wasn't quite sure exactly what to do with it. We were guided to the dining table and the teenager and the girl sat down. A pile of English text books were thrown on the table and the mother brought a stack of paper and some pens. "Was this a lesson now?" I was very confused about this whole meeting. I decided it would be best to talk to them and see exactly how good their English was. After a few minutes I found the boy to be very pleasant with a good grasp of spoken English. His sister on the other hand was a complete nightmare. I have witnessed spoilt children before, and she fitted the category perfectly. It was painful trying to talk to her, she wasn't willing to even attempt to speak English. As I sat there trying to get her to ask questions, I could only think of my private class of similar aged children that I teach on Saturday morning. Those children are the polar opposite of that girl, sometimes I can't get a word in because they are so keen to talk.

After ninety minutes I wrapped up our talk and made sure if there was a next time, I would speak to the brother and sister separately. I was putting my shoes on when I saw the mother talking to Kimi and handing over some money. It seems that Kimi has worked out my going rate for English classes, and it's not cheap by the look of the 300 RMB we came out with.

We went to D & L square today to eat at the newly opened Papa John's. It felt very much like Christmas inside with the decorations and music playing. I can't quite believe I will be home in such a short time, all I have to do is get through this upcoming 7 day working!

Papa John's: the newest American franchise to make it to Wenzhou. Subway is comming next


Ihengsi said...

Looks like Kimi did a good job setting your rate.

I would expect Papa Johns to do well, but not too sure about Subway. Unless they dramatically change their menu to suit the local market, just like many others have done (KFC, McDonalds, etc.)

大眼睛熊 said...

I wonder if the brother and sister will ask for another English class with u again, I overheard him saying foreign teachers are so expensive to get! But u definitely worth ¥200 per hour and they are definitely loaded!! Xxx

mabelp said...

Chris! U're a hard working teacher. How did u get to know these private students? I think one on one is good for kids to learn Eng.

Chris said...

Ihengsi, I know what you mean. Papa John's and Pizza Hut tend to fit in quite well, but Subway is not tailored for the usual Chinese diet at all. I do remember that in Hangzhou the branch of Subway was usually occupied by the foreigners. There aren't so many here, it'll be interesting to see how it goes. Maybe they will change the menu to fit in.

It would be nice if the brother and sister asked me again, not that it would be enjoyable, but I am prepared to do it for that much money, ha!

Mabel, I found those private students just from students at Web recommending me to their friends. I also agree, I think one on one lessons are best for the student.

Wayne said...

haha,Chris,i suppose u must go to Papa Johns every day since u mentioned it at almost every entry,^_^, and i can tell your situation at all cos i've suffered that as well.
Btw, i know a Chinese man who has studied in Bristol Uni for 3 years,and believe or not, his english is still a total bless this poor girl...^_^