Easy as ABC

Have you ever heard the saying “it’s as easy as ABC?”  This is a common expression, but many small children struggle to learn to read at first. It takes a good teacher to support students through all new lessons, whether big or small.  I was shocked to learn that something as simple as the ABC song is actually taught differently here in China.  This blows my mind:

Does good teaching look different in China? I don’t think so.  Since I arrived here, I’ve met three inspirational women who have taught me a lot about what it means to be a great teacher. I will strive to be like them.

#1: Annie: Beginner Mandarin Instructor at the Hutong School

What does she do that’s awesome? Annie makes sure that every student in her Mandarin classes is learning. She gets everyone involved, and if you need extra help, she’ll always go back over something. She is very kind and friendly, but she keeps class serious and focused, so that lots of learning is happening.

Why is she such a great teacher? Whenever I left Annie’s classes, I thought to myself, “Wow! I learned so much more than I thought I could today!” Annie always reviewed what we studied that day so that I could really see my progress.

#2: Terese (otherwise known as Cherry Lady): Organic Farmer Extraordinaire, Beijing God’s Grace Garden Plantation

What does she do that’s awesome? Cherry Lady used to be a successful business woman, but she left everything to dedicate her life to her mission. She works to produce healthy food without the use of any chemicals. For the past 12 years, she’s been living the dream.

Why is she such a great teacher? Cherry Lady couldn’t be more passionate about her work.  When I asked her if her farm makes a profit, she said that she’s working to pay off the debt that human beings owe to nature.  When she talks, you know that something important is coming up, so you better listen. Here’s a taste of her wisdom, but I’m working on a longer video to publish soon:

#3: Helen: Founder, Migrant Children’s Foundation

What does she do that’s awesome? Helen originally came to China for a break from her life in the U.K., but she learned about the poor opportunities for children of migrant workers in China, so she stayed to do something about it. She now lives full time in Beijing and runs a foundation to support 7 schools for migrant children.

Why is she such a great teacher? Helen gets things done. When our group arrived to volunteer at one of her schools, Helen was a task master about getting our project completed (except during popsicle breaks). Today, I watched her organize a collection for a woman who lost her home in the recent storms. It was the single most amazing experience I’ve had donating money. We took the money out of our wallets and put it directly into the hand of a family in need. Helen is all business and all heart. Together, the action taken is powerful.

Volunteers and migrant children celebrate their work repainting the school building
(I made balloon hats, because they make every celebration more festive!)


The word in Mandarin Chinese for teacher is “Lao Shi.” I am a classroom teacher, but all of us have the opportunity to teach others. What are you teaching, and how will you make your lessons extraordinary?

Categories: China

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5 replies »

  1. This is really cool!!

    I’m surprised at how they teach the ABC’s in China! Why do you think they teach the ABC’s differently there? Do you think it’s because they want to make it easier for the children?
    Just from your descriptions of Annie, Terese and Helen, I think they’re really awesome too!! Annie sounds like a great teacher, Terese sounds like a true Nature-lover, and Helen sounds like the most caring person in the world!
    But I think I like Terese the most. I like her quotes on Nature and Life. And when you actually think about it, her quotes are true. If you love something, you take care of it.
    I think the ducklings are cute! Were they from a nearby pond, or from the farm? How old do you think they are?
    And what were the people doing in the video of Cherry Lady? Were they planting more trees or plants? Or were they doing something else?

    Have fun!!
    😉 ~ Anna

  2. that was one out of order ABCs! Still, it reminds me that even aniamal sounds are translated. Here is an example:

    So pigs sound like “oink” right
    in german “oink” is: grunz.
    WHAT?? Pigs make “grunz” sounds in germany 😀

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