A Third Grader’s View of Kids’ Daily Lives in Taiwan
Kids in Taiwan like to do many of the same things that American children like to do–watching TV, surfing the internet, and playing sports (especially baseball) are all favorite past times. However, while kids in America and Taiwan do have their similarities, there are some big differences in their day to day lives. I interviewed a third grader named Sandy–whose heritage is both Taiwanese aboriginal and Chinese–and found out about some of these similarities and differences.
Taiwanese children and American children like to do a lot of the same outside activities. Sports like baseball and basketball are popular after-school activities for a lot of kids here. However, there are some differences between kids in the U.S. and Taiwan in terms of daily life, especially concerning school. For instance, Taiwanese children leave school at around 4p.m. every day, but the majority of students also attend cram schools until about 6:00p.m. (for younger kids) or 8:00 p.m. (for older kids). Also, starting from first grade, Taiwanese children must take English classes. In Taiwan, English is just as important as Math and Science. In my conversation with Sandy, a Taiwanese third grader, I learned a lot about the day to day lives of kids in Taiwan, and how their lives are similar to and different from the lives of kids in the United States. Sandy’s Chinese name is Guo Zi Qing, but she likes to use her English name when she gets the chance. From drinking honey water for breakfast to getting home from school by riding on the back of her mom’s scooter, Sandy’s daily experiences reveal how kids in Taiwan work, play, and live.
What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?:
I eat breakfast on-the-go. I usually drink honey water and buy a sandwich with egg and cheese from a breakfast shop before I leave with my mom for school. I eat lunch at the school with the rest of my classmates. Usually we have vegetables and some kind of meat. I’m not a vegetarian, but a lot of kids in my school are. For dinner, I usually eat a lot of vegetables and fish, and sometimes I eat eggs.
What is your house like?:
My house is three stories and is pretty new. It is medium-sized. Each floor is about the size of the English classroom at my school. We don’t have a yard, but I wish we did!
What chores do you have at home?:
I have A LOT of chores at home! I cook every day, usually vegetables. I have to wash the clothes, sweep the floors, and take out the garbage. I really don’t like having to do all of it!
What jobs do your parents have?:
My mother is a nurse, and my father fixes cars. I’m not really sure what he does, but I know that there are cars and he fixes them somehow.
What time does school start, and what time do you go home?:
School starts every day at 8:00a.m. I usually go home around 6:00p.m. School is over at 4:00p.m., but I go to cram school for two hours every day and study extra math, science, and English.
How do you get to school? Are you allowed to go to school by yourself?:
I usually get to school by scooter. My mother brings me. The school is pretty far from where I live in Yilan City. It takes about 30 minutes to get to school. I leave my house around 7:20 to get to school at 7:50a.m. I can’t go to school by myself because it is too far, and I can’t drive!
Where do you eat lunch? What is your favorite food?:
I usually eat lunch in school, with the rest of my class. People bring a cart with lunch trays on it into our classroom every day and we eat lunch together as a class. My favorite food is Taiwanese hamburgers, and I also like to eat apples. I really like fruit.
What language do you speak at school? How do you say “Hello” in your language?:
At school, we speak Mandarin Chinese. We also have classes in Taiwanese, the language that a lot of people in Taiwan speak. In Chinese, “hello” is “ni hao” (pronounced “KNEE-HOW”)
What are some common kids’ names at your school?:
Some really common names for girls are “Jiayi,” for boys, “Yixian” is really popular. A lot of boys have names that begin with xian, jian, zhi, or kai, and for girls, yu, ting, hong, and zhen are really popular. (Chinese people have three-word names that begin with their last name. For example: in the name “Wang Su Zhen,” “Wang” is the last name, and “Su Zhen” is the first name).
What subjects do you study in school, and which one is your favorite?:
I study Math, Science, Music, Social Studies, Chinese, English, Art, and a few others. My favorite subject is English. I really like to study English in my spare time.
What is your homework like?:
I have too much homework! I think it is too much. I do so much homework every night! My Chinese characters are really pretty, but that means I write really slow. So, it takes me a long time to do my homework!
What do you like to do after school? Do you have a favorite sport or game?:
After school, I mostly do homework. On weekends my parents will take me to Wulai, the natural aboriginal area near Taipei. My favorite sport is track and field. I really like to run! And I really like to jump rope, too.
Who is your favorite famous person?:
My favorite person is a singer. Her name is Lian Wen Yin. She is aboriginal like me and sings aboriginal songs.
What kinds of music do you listen to?:
My favorite kind of music is rock music! I also like to listen to aboriginal music, like Lian Wen Yin sings.
What would you like to be when you grow up?:
I want to be a doctor when I grow up. My mom is a nurse, so I really want to be like her and work as a doctor.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?:
I want to go to Japan. Japan is really close to Taiwan, and I really want to go to Disney World there!
What do you know or think about the United States?:
I like America. I think it probably has pretty good food, and is really pretty. I’m not very sure though, because I’ve never been!
What questions do you have for kids in the United States?:
What are your lives like? What do you like to do every day? Also, I want to know…are your teachers nice, or are they mean? I’m very curious about the last one!
Sandy, one of my third grade students in Taiwan
Sandy and me in the English classroom, with another student in her class