Learning English in China with help from a naughty monkey

September 13, 2016

The Oxford Royale Academy says, “It’s often said that English is one of the hardest languages to learn … and one of the reasons why English is known for being difficult is because it’s full of contradictions.”

That difficultly didn’t stop China from making learning English mandatory in its public schools, but speaking English like a native doesn’t always work well when you’re learning from a cartoon character called Mocky the naughty monkey.

Michael Meyer, the author of “The Last Days of Old Beijing” had this to say about Mocky: “Beijing students begin studying English in Grade One. Every child is enrolled in three forty-five-minute lessons each week until the end of elementary school, at Grade Six. Much of Mocky’s instruction is automated, reducing the teacher’s role to leading students through recitations of the dialogues, animated on a disc included with the text. Although Mocky speaks slowly, he sounds as if he’s inhaled some bad helium.”


This is a normal Chinese high school student who was not born in an English speaking country and learned English in class.

A friend shared the following e-mail and said it had gone viral among the Chinese. The friend said she knew someone else who went to Beijing and was given this brochure by the hotel he was staying at.  After you read this brochure that the hotel had translated into English, you might think it was written by that naughty monkey. Here goes:

Getting There:

Our representative will make you wait at the airport. The bus to the hotel runs along the lake shore. Soon you will feel pleasure in passing water. You will know that you are getting near the hotel, because you will go round the bend. The manager will await you in the entrance hall. He always tries to have intercourse with all new guests.

The Hotel:

This is a family hotel, so children are very welcome. We of course are always pleased to accept adultery. Highly skilled nurses are available in the evenings to put down your children. Guests are invited to conjugate in the bar and expose themselves to others. But please note that ladies are not allowed to have babies in the bar. We organize social games, so no guest is ever left alone to play with them self.

The Restaurant:

Our menus have been carefully chosen to be ordinary and unexciting. At dinner, our quartet will circulate from table to table, and fiddle with you.

Your Room:

Every room has excellent facilities for your private parts. In winter, every room is on heat. Each room has a balcony offering views of outstanding obscenity!

You will not be disturbed by traffic noise, since the road between the hotel and the lake is used only by pederasts.

Bed:

Your bed has been made in accordance with local tradition. If you have any other ideas please ring for the chambermaid. Please take advantage of her. She will be very pleased to squash your shirts, blouses and underwear. If asked, she will also squeeze your trousers.

Above All:

When you leave us at the end of your holiday, you will have no hope. You will struggle to forget it.

The punchline, as it turns out, is that the original e-mail was an April fool’s joke, but because someone who thought it was real forwarded it to everyone he knew who forwarded it again, it ended up going viral. Even the Chinese had fun with this one.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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The influence of U.S. universities on students from China

August 30, 2016

Millions of students from Communist China have attended American universities and colleges and earned degrees.

The American impression of China hasn’t stopped some of China’s top leaders sending their children to universities in the West. For instance China’s first-daughter, Xi Mingxi, the only child of Xi Jinping, the President of China, graduated from Harvard in 2014 under a pseudonym.  The New Yorker reported she “studied psychology and English and lived under an assumed (fake) name.”

In November 2015 Foreign Policy Magazine reported, “Out of the more than 974,000 international students currently in the United States, almost one in three is now Chinese.”

According to Foreign Policy Magazine there is a benefit gained from this. “Having these Chinese students on U.S. campuses helps to build a bridge between China and the United States.”

This exchange isn’t free. In fact, it’s expensive for a foreign student to attend a college or university in the U.S., and Foreign Policy says, “In the 2014-2015 academic year, Chinese students pumped $9.8 billion into the U.S. economy through tuition and fees.”

It may come as a surprise to most Americans to discover that families in China that have the money to send their children to the U.S. mostly belong to the Communist Youth League or the Chinese Communist Party and more of them are going home after graduation.

The South China Morning Post reported, “For decades, the rate of return to China remained low as students with advanced degrees did not see opportunities for research at home. Last year, more than 272,000 Chinese returned after completing their education abroad, 86,700 more than in 2011; a 46 percent increase, according to the Ministry of Education.”

When China’s evolution as a modern nation is complete, will it become a republic influenced by America’s “so-called” socialist, liberal institutions of higher education, but with Chinese characteristics like Sun Yat-sen, the father of China’s republic, said he wanted. After all, Sun Yat-sen was influencd by what he learned while attending high school and then one semester of college in Hawaii before he went home to launch a revolution that toppled China’s last imperial dynasty in 1912.

What do most Chinese students think after spending several years in the United States? Another Foreign Policy piece attempts to answer that question and reports, For many Chinese students, it’s not that simple. “I like the U.S.,” one survey respondent wrote. “But I love China; it’s my motherland.”

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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The Historical Social Networks and Influential Relationships of China

August 24, 2016

The title of this post refers to Guanxi. I first heard of Guanxi from the China Law Blog, which referred to the Silicon Hutong Blog.

After reading the China Law Blog’s post, I did more research and also watched a few videos on the subject.

I learned that Guanxi is an aspect of Chinese culture that does not translate easily.

There are several elements and layers to Guanxi. First, Guanxi is based on a Confucian hierarchy of familial relationships, long-term friendships, classmates, and schoolmates and to those no stranger—Chinese or foreign—will ever have access to. (Silicon Hutong)

Guanxi evolved over the millennia because China didn’t have a stable and effective legal system. In fact, the legal system in China today is relatively new and made its appearance after the 1982 Chinese Constitution was established.

Since 1982, there have been several amendments to the Constitution as China adapts its evolving legal system.

In time, this legal system may replace Guanxi since business law modeled on Western law with Chinese characteristic is developing faster than civil law.

Through the centuries, merchants in China needed a way to avoid disputes and problems in the absence of a well-developed legal system. To survive, a complex system called Guanxi developed with many components such as partnerships, trust, credibility, etc.

Guanxi developed organically in civil society due to the absence of a uniform, government mandated legal system, and maintaining Guanxi is different than how relationships are maintained in other cultures. The embedded videos with this post offers a more detailed explanation.

The China Law Blog’s had more than twenty comments, and it was a lively discussion worth reading if you are interested in discovering more on this topic.

Learn about “face” and discover how it might affect Guanxi.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Does Shanghai Really have the World’s Best School System? Part 3 of 3

August 18, 2016

According to World Education News & Reviews, in 2010, senior high schools [in China] accommodated 46.8 million students (23.4% of the  199.5 million students attending K to 9). But 48 percent of that 46.8 million students were in vocational senior high schools — not academic high schools, and only 15 year olds in academic high schools took the PISA test.

That leaves 21.2 million enrolled in the senior high school academic track designed to prep kids for college—that’s 10.6% of the total number of K to 12 students in China. This means that the fifteen-year-old students who take the international PISA in China are the elite of the elite attending China’s best public schools.


Students in China are taught from a very early age how to beat tests.

In addition, what country’s public schools have been used as a role model for China’s public school system?

Solutions Journal.com  reports, “What the Chinese found valuable in American education is the result of a decentralized, autonomous system that does not have standards, uses multiple criteria for judging the value of talents, and celebrates individual differences. Recognizing the negative consequences of ‘test-oriented education,’ China has launched a series of national reforms to cultivate more creative citizens. In 1999 China’s Central Committee sought to reform testing, abolish middle school exams, and encourage local provinces to experiment with their own examination regimens. This was followed by further decrees in 2001, encouraging more diverse curricula, and greater choice for students in subject matter—although any new material used must still ‘equip students with patriotism, collectivism, a love for socialism, and the Chinese cultural traditions, as well as moral-ethic values, democratic spirits with Chinese characteristics.’”

While China is moving closer to what the American public education system was like before 1999, the U.S. with NCLB, RTTT, and the Common Core and its high stakes tests has been moving away from the model China admired, and 13 years later, China’s 15 year old high school students in 10th grade in Shanghai earned 1st place in the 2012 international PISA test.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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Does Shanghai Really have the World’s Best School System? Part 2 of 3

August 17, 2016

How did China’s city of Shanghai beat out everyone else in the world with such a dramatic 1st place average on the 2012 international PISA test?

First, the 15 year olds in Shanghai that took the PISA test had to rank high on another test just to get into high school (grades 10, 11 and 12) so they were already great test takers, the best in their generation and China has almost 200 million students in its public schools.

You see, students that graduate from middle school (grades 7, 8 and 9) in China have to take the senior high school entrance exam known as Zhongkao. Students that fail this high school entrance exam are not allowed to graduate from junior high school, and they do not get into any academic senior high schools.

Second, Asia Society.org reports that Shanghai has the world’s best school system. “China has a long tradition of respect for education. In fact, there is much societal and family pressure to do well academically. This has fostered education reform throughout history at many levels. While the entire country has made strides in education, Shanghai is at the forefront as it has been given special authority to experiment with reform before the rest of the country. … One interesting strategy employed by Shanghai (that the United States is not doing) to improve weak schools is the commissioned education program. Under this scheme, top performing schools are assigned a weak school to administer. The ‘good’ school will send a team of teachers and a principal to lead the school and improve it.”

To explain how this works, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has acknowledged a “9-6-3 rule”. This means that nine of ten children began primary school between the ages of 6 and 7; six complete the first five years and three graduate from sixth grade with good performance. The 3 of 10 that graduate from 6th grade are allowed to go on to grades 7, 8 and 9.

For a comparison to the United States, in the U.S. in 2015, 82 percent of 17/18 year olds graduated on time from academic high schools, because education is mandatory to 12th grade instead of 9th grade like it is in China.  Students that continue beyond 9th grade in China want to keep learning. To be clear, it isn’t mandatory past 9th grade.

By the time a student reaches senior high school—grades 10, 11, and 12—most enrollment is in the cities and not in rural China. Many rural Chinese don’t value education as much as urban Chinese do. Many of the migrant urban workers from rural China still have some family back in the village where they often leave their younger children. In fact, many of the migrant workers, when they retire from factory work, return to the village and the family home.

The United States, by comparison, keeps most kids in school until the end of high school at age 17/18, and another 10 percent earn a high school diploma or equivalent GED by age 24. This all takes place in academic schools, because there are no vocational public schools in the U.S.

Continued with Part 3 on August 18, 2016 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Does Shanghai Really have the World’s Best School System? Part 1 of 3

August 16, 2016

In 2012 Shanghai earned 1st place in the world on the International PISA test. Its score was 613 in math, 570 in reading, and 580 in science. Second place went to Singapore: 573 in math, 542 in reading, and 551 in science. The mean score for all the countries that took part in the PISA was 494 in math, 496 in Reading and 501 in Science.

Around 510 000 students between the ages of 15 years 3 months and 16 years 2 months participated in PISA 2012 as a whole representing about 28 million 15-year-olds globally.

All 34 OECD member countries and 31 partner countries and economies participated in PISA 2012, representing more than 80% of the world economy. The U.S. was ranked #36 compared to the 65 countries/cities listed.

But Shanghai is not a country. It is a city and so was Hong Kong and Macao. Even the Principality of  Liechtenstein, a landlocked microstate that is one of Europe’s most affluent (wealthiest) communities, with a population of almost 37,000, was ranked in the top 10 right behind Japan. At least Shanghai has a population of more than 20 million.

The United States with 314.1 million people in 2012 was ranked much lower when the average scores were compared to all the other countries, but America’s ranking was flawed and misleading because of an error when the test was taken in the U.S.  To discover more, click the following link:  Poor ranking on international test misleading about U.S. student performance, Stanford researched finds.

At this point, you might be thinking, why is he mentioning America’s PISA score when this post is about Shanghai. In Part 3, the ironic answer to that question will be answered.

Continued with Part 2 on August 17, 2016

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 3 of 3

August 11, 2016

To determine what a republic in China would look like, we must also ask how many Chinese would have been allowed to vote in Sun Yat-sen’s republic.

To find out we need to take a closer look at who was eligible to vote in the United States during Sun’s life to discover that most minorities [China has 56] and women in the United States were not allowed to vote. In addition, some American states at the time had literacy laws in place and eligible adult men [mostly minorities] had to pass a literacy test to be able to vote. The first literacy test for voting was adopted by Connecticut in 1855. In fact, ten of the eleven southern states had subjective literacy tests that were used to restrict voter registration, but some of those states used grandfather clauses to exempt white voters from taking literacy tests.

Knowing this, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have created a republic in China that only allowed educated and wealthy Han Chinese men to vote. Women and children would have remained chattel, the property of men to be bought and sold for any reason as they had for thousands of years, and China’s minorities would have had no rights.

Therefore, once we subtract children, women, minorities, Han Chinese adult males who did not own property and any of those who were illiterate from the eligible voting population, what’s left is less than five percent of the adult population—and the educated Han elite adult males who owned property would have ruled the country. Most of the people in China would have had no voice; no vote.

What about today’s China?

Six-hundred million rural Chinese are allowed to vote in local elections. Only Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members vote in national elections but at last count, there were more than 80 million CCP members; China’s leader—with limited powers—may only serve two five-year terms.

And China has its own form of an electoral college. The President of China is elected by the National People’s Congress [NPC] with 2,987 members [dramatically more than the Electoral College in the United States with its 538 electors]. The NPC also has the power to remove the President and other state officers from office. Elections and removals are decided by a simple majority vote.

There is another significant difference between China’s NPC and America’s Electoral College—members of China’s NPC are elected but members of America’s Electoral College are appointed. This process varies from state to state. Usually, political parties nominate electors at their state conventions. Sometimes that process occurs by a vote of the U.S. party’s central committee. The electors are usually state-elected officials, party leaders, or people with a strong affiliation with the presidential candidates. This means that the American people have no say when those hand-picked 538 electors decide who the next U.S. President will be.

Then there is this fact: China’s culture is influenced by Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism — not Christianity, Islam or Judaism — and all three of these Asian religions/philosophies emphasizes harmony with little or no focus on individual rights as practiced in Europe and North America. Knowing that, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have supported some form of censorship over individuals in China when too much freedom of expression threatened the nation’s harmony.

But the pressure on China to become a democracy is for China to copy the United States with no consideration for its history and unique cultural differences. I wonder why.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline