Sunday, May 16, 2004

Rabbits and pandas will eat meat...

My 2nd Uncle knows this 13 yr old China kid who was looking for a tutor to prepare him (somewhat) for the entrance exams into one of the secondary schools here, so he figured I was an ideal candidate for this particular student in view of the fact that my mandarin sucks. Gee, thanks...

Eek. The situation as I've surmised from the first session today is that the kid's probably more well-read and knowledgable than his S'porean peers, but... His stumbling block is of course, English. I started him off on one chapter from a Primary 6 Science textbook in a bid to test the waters. It took 2.5 hours (and plenty of saliva) before Diversity and Classification was completed. It wasn't so much of the concepts that proved a problem. Heck no, why should it be for someone who's able to natter to me about Evolution in CHINESE. Or fully understand what constitutes an 'amphibian', after translation that is. The problem was trying to explain terms like 'classify' in pure English. And throw in the fact that his vocab is like... poor, despite intensive lessons at the British Council everyday. Not that I'll expect lessons at the British Council to improve one's vocab. Spent half the lesson time explaining (and reminding him of) the meaning of words like 'bear', 'peacock', 'angsana', 'pong pong', 'quail', 'whale', and HORRORS, 'paramecium'. Stupid MOE's already stuffing 'paramecium' down the throats of our Pri 6 kids? Fine, I'll admit it. I wasn't too sure what exactly 'paramecium' was myself, and I actually told him that it was a sort of xi jun. You go, girl.

Nearly collapsed at the table when I asked him to name an animal that ate only plants. I suggested 'rabbits' after some silence, and he refuted that by saying that rabbits would eat meat too. I got a bit stunned by that statement, not quite knowing whether that was really true (DOH), so I threw back 'panda'. He claimed that they'll adapt to eat meat too, if there were no bamboo shoots available. Yeah right, kid. Not in you and the starving panda's combined lifetimes. Was also very tempted to have him defend his casual comment that Man evolved from monkeys, but since he didn't understand the meaning of the word 'proof', I wasn't keen on wading into Chinese deep waters so I left it at that.

Oh man... I'm not giving Maths and Science tuition to a 13 year old. I'm giving English tuition using Maths and Science to a 13 year old. *groans*

Yvonne | 11:45 PM |
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