Dallen’s Kids Field Note

One of the neat things I get to do while in China is teach English to a class of 8-14 year old boys and girls
every Saturday. I asked them lots of questions to get to know them better and to be able to tell you
guys what they said!

  •  What is your house like?

My students all live in ZhuoZhou. ZhuoZhou is a city outside of Beijing. The buildings in China are
almost all built using concrete, not wood. There are not very many trees around Beijing, so people don’t
really use wood to build things. The apartment of one of my students is very nice. Her parents are
friends with the people I teach English for, and we went and had tea after class one Saturday. All of the
family’s furniture was hand-carved and very beautiful. Their apartment was two floors and very big.

  • What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

In different parts of China, either noodles or rice is very common. My host family prefers to have rice
with their meals; however, the students in my class all love noodles! It is very common to have noodles
for every meal, just like we have rice with every meal. Noodles and egg sandwiches are very common
for breakfast. Lunch is often stir-fried vegetables with a little bit of meat, and dinner can be anything
from lao bing with chicken (kind of like pitas) to chopped up whole chickens!

  • What chores do you have at home?

Usually the most important thing for a Chinese child to do is work hard and do well in school. Some
of them do have chores at home also. One Chinese student told me about this neat chore: Monday
through Friday his mother cooks all the meals and he has to clean up the plates, wash them and put
them away. On Saturday and Sunday though, he and his dad cook all the meals and his Mom takes care
of the dishes. Some other students are in charge of feeding the pets or helping to clean their cages.

  • What jobs do your parents have?

My students’ parents have jobs ranging from accounting to teaching English in middle school. Lots of
the student’s parents are business people, but the students don’t know what kind of business they do,
just that they are business people. Being a business person here seems different than working for a
company in the United States.

  • What time does school start, and what time do you go home?

My students go to school at 7 o’clock in the morning, and they don’t get home until 6 pm at night, some
of them even later! They are in school all day until 5 pm. Are you glad you aren’t in school all day?

  • How do you get to school? Are you allowed to go to school by yourself?

My students’ parents either drive them in their car, or the student takes the bus, walks to school or rides
a bike. The younger students have their parents take them, and the older students go together.

  • What is your favorite food?

My students’ favorite foods are noodles or pizza. All of them that told me their favorite food had one of
those things! It surprised me that they all like the same things. Do any of you like noodles or pizza the

  • What language do you speak at school? How do you say “Hello” in your language?

My students speak Mandarin and a little bit of English at school. They know lots of English words that
they’ve memorized, but knowing how to use them together is the hard part. To say “Hello,” they say ni
hao when they greet a friend, and nin hao to formally greet somebody like their elder.

  • What are some common kids’ names at your school?

My class members have lots of unique names. In China, names have great meaning. When telling
someone your name, your family name comes first because the family comes before its individual
members. My Chinese name is Han DaLun (韩大伦). In English it would be Hansen Dallen. Li (丽
) is very common girls’ name. It means “beautiful.” It is very common for girls’ names to have
words of beauty or grace in them, and for boys’ names to have words of power (大in my name
means “big”).

  • What subjects do you study in school, and which one is your favorite?

My students study Math, History, Physics, English and even Military Science in school. Most of them like
Math a lot. Do any of you like Math? Studying English for them isn’t like in the United States. They are
learning how to speak, read and write the language. Are any of you learning another language? Are any
of you learning Chinese?

  • What is your homework like?

Chinese students have homework pretty much every day, and even on the weekends. It’s just normal
for them though, and they don’t seem to mind. Do you have homework to do seven days a week?

  • What do you like to do after school? Do you have a favorite sport or game?

My students like to play basketball, Ping-Pong, play computer games and read during their free time.
They often go to the park to play athletic games because nobody has a backyard to play in. The parks
have all the grass.

  • Who is your favorite famous person?

A lot of my students’ favorite person is Yao Ming. He is a Chinese basketball player, who plays in the
NBA. Other famous people my students’ like are famous Chinese singers and actors.

  • What kinds of music do you listen to?

No one really said they listen to music, but one person said she likes to sing old American songs. She
sang a part of one song that I didn’t recognize, but she sang very well!

  • What would you like to be when you grow up?

One of my students wants to be a surgeon when he grows up. He is very smart so I hope he is able to do

  • If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Some of my students just want to go to the beaches in South China. Some of them would like to travel
to other countries, including the United Sates.

  • What do you know or think about the United States?

My students are really interested in the United States. They love seeing pictures and hearing stories
about the U.S. A lot of them want to come and see Hollywood. Some even want to come to live in the
United States. They are very excited that people want to learn about their culture too. They think China
is a beautiful place with a very rich culture.

  • What questions do you have for kids in the United States?

My students were curious why students in the United States don’t go to school for very long every day.
They also wondered if a lot of people liked to play basketball. One student even said that I probably
knew President Obama personally since I was from the United States! Isn’t that funny?

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