Her ambition

E has been coming to my place once a week for the past 1.5 months. She’s a Chinese girl from a kampong somewhere in Pahang on the way to Genting. It was her friend ( or maybe boyfriend or soon to be boyfriend- whatever ) Y, who tracked me down online and upon learning I do homeschooling and conduct English lessons from my home, persuaded me to slot E in. He said she really wanted to learn English.

He explained that she left school after UPSR and started working to help her parents out. She can only speak Mandarin and Malay and now that she is out of her little Pahang village, she feels overwhelmed with the lingo of the anak-anak kota here, which is of course strongly peppered in English.

Actually I have Aikido training on Monday nights, but it worked out for us as the husband has night classes on Mondays this semester. So no Aikido on Mondays means I can slot her in.

When I first met E and Y, it was after my Aikido training one Friday evening. I still remember the first meeting where we met just to get to know each other. Y, who tracked me down actually googled for home based English teachers for adults and somewhere deep inside the cyberspace my name and where I hailed from appeared. He was very enthusiastic, kept saying ‘waaah you come from there sure can teach English one lah… down there the English standard high hor’. So that night, we arranged to meet at Ipoh Old Town White Coffee. It was almost a blind date of sorts.

When they arrived, I knew it had to be them. I waved. Y, who initially on the phone sounded very enthusiastic suddenly looked skeptical and a bit startled if I may say so. I could almost immediately read what was on his mind. It shows. Especially when his first question was ‘ You from __________ ahh?? ‘ In other words, me coming from ________ , he had half or even 90% expected me to be a Chinese. But what he got in front of him was an overweight akak Melayu in martial arts attire and tudung bought from Indonesia. The ones the husband calls a speedo as I can just slip them on without pins and what nots. But I digress. Y started to chain smoke. You know that someone is nervous when in the middle of no where, they started to chain smoke and in your face too.

E was just quiet and watched the conversation between Y and myself, as I told him of the terms and conditions. E wanted to ask some questions. She thought I could not understand her, but when she asked Y to translate a question in Mandarin into English to ask me, I answered her back in Mandarin. That made both heads turn. That was the sealing point and they asked if E could start her lessons the very next week.

For four weeks after that, they both came to my house every Monday night. E to learn the English language. Y to send her and to see how I teach so that he can follow up after every lesson. I started her on basic conversation practice and also on vocabulary and grammar. She enjoys her lessons. However, whenever I asked her where is she working, so that I know how to formulate the direction of her lessons– whether to prepare her for letter writing or front desk spoken English or whatever… she evaded the question from time to time so I ceased asking altogether. Hence, I started her on Primary 1 level English.

Last week, Y didn’t come with E. He had to work. Then suddenly, in the middle of the lesson, she said, ‘ Teacher , I 2o year old this year. I work at Chinese Pub in Kepong’ in a manner that if she had the choice, she wouldn’t want anyone to know about it.

Today I had lesson with her again. Y came to send her but he sat on the couch away from us, surfing the net. We did a page on the theme MYSELF from the Pri 1 English workbook. She had to fill in the blanks with things about herself. I asked her to read out loud whatever she wrote so as to correct her pronunciation. When she reached this particular sentence, she read it out so loud while looking at Y, with eyes focused on his face as if trying to send a loud and clear message, She read out what she wrote…’ WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE AN OFFICE GIRL


7 thoughts on “Her ambition

  1. CC,

    1) You can speak Mandarin?…Wow…

    2) The blind-date with potential language learning clients is VERY familiar to me… I used to do it all the time before joining the University.

    3) This entry leaves me with mixed emotions – a sense of pride and accomplishment at the achievement of the girl, but at the same time, a sad sense of pity, at the heights of her aspirations…

  2. i actually look up to her drive and determination to learn, even if she does work in a ‘Chinese pub in Kepong’.

  3. Ana,
    Indeed !!!

    Mr Lobo,
    This is after following Mandarin drama serials for years and years and years. Yonks. And also 5-6 years of teaching English in a Chinese school.

    Yes, that’s it.. that’s why I am very motivated during lessons. This girl is one who really wants to learn.

  4. I REALLY REALLY hope she gets to be an office girl when she grows up. 10 stars to her for effort, 11 stars to you for being there for her 🙂

  5. I guess for now, the pub scene is good money for her but I obviously, she wants out. She wants to be what she comes to the city for– you know, work in an office in a decent job probably receptionist or clerk or whatever. She left school at Sec 1, after she got her UPSR result, spent some time in Sec 1 and then left to help her parents find the dough…

    Sad case but she will triumph, I feel with this kind of attitude…

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