Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Shaoxing's Sydney Opera House.

The Opera House at Shaoxing

The Opera House from the front.

I have several classes working with me on a project to (a) improve their English and (b) provide English information for the foreign teachers and any tourists. There is very little English information here, which frustrates me. A lot.

I asked one class if they could explain to a non Chinese speaker, how to get to the Shaoxing Opera. I knew it was a famous opera company. I haven't been able to find any information. Oh, one said. Just catch No 2 bus.

The conversation went a little like this.

Me: Oh, so where do I get off? What do I tell the conductor? (who speaks only Chinese and now I know 5 Chinese words!)

Student: Get off at city quare.

Me: There are several city squares. Which one?

Student: The big one.

Me: So, perhaps I get to city square. Where next?

Student: Look up. You will see Sydney Opera House.

Me: So what time is the opera on, how much, when?

Student: Just go. They will tell you.

So yesterday, armed with this great information I went in search of the Shaoxing Opera/Sydney Opera House. And sure, I found it overlooking a city square. Finding any entrance was my next challenge - but in the end, after walking around and under the building I found a door and entered.

Two beautiful young ladies were on the other side of the glass.

The conversation was like many I have had. "Does anyone speak English?"

Reply "No English".

In the end I negotiated a copy of an A4 printed page full of Chinese writing, and photos of Chinese opera stars. Nothing was of help to me.

I showed my class today. One student always goes to Chinese opera. She is a singer and will take me. She supplied the information that I needed, but the class agreed, there was inadequate information for English speakers.

The students are amused at the stories I tell them, about my language challenges. I tell the stories to emphasise the potential for them as English speakers. I would pay a good guide.

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