- 1 Post By Tdol
Reading the News
I'm an engineering intern at a Chinese company and have been asked to teach everyone English for three hours a week. There has been a request from one of my coworkers to help read the newspaper. I'm wondering what is the best place to start for easy to read news articles? Also, is there a program or maybe the news website already has this feature, where you can mouse over words and get an instant definition.
Re: Reading the News
"asked to teach everyone English for three hours a week" That sounds like either:
A. A fun way to get to know one another and share some culture. OR
B. A slippery slope into being an English Teacher and not an Engineering Intern.
I'll assume the former and offer a few insights from my experiences in China:
1. Stay away from newspapers- especially western ones. You are a guest in China- the guest of a government that sometimes is not so tolerant of differing points of view. If Chinese find western newspapers themselves, then the government may or may not have something to say about that, but it should not be possible to construe that you are actively encouraging this kind of "disruptive thinking". (I have found The New York Times occasionally blocked, for instance.) You are there to learn engineering, not to teach Chinese how (or what) to think.
2. I have made a personal rule to never get drawn into talking politics with Chinese. They are simply unequipped to do so, because they have never been exposed to varying viewpoints. Think of it this way: What if the only news channel you had known your entire life was Fox News? If one of your colleagues comes to you with specific questions about internal US life or politics, then by all means talk it over with them, but I strongly urge you to avoid discussion of International Relations in anything but a positive light. You needn't be paranoid, just don't forget you're a Guest and conduct yourself accordingly. Newspapers are almost by definition a political instrument!
3. Newspapers are not the best choice for another reason: The stories are full of proper nouns that make translation programs mostly useless, and even the best translators often yield some pretty baffling results.
4. I found the best luck with contemporary essay writers, like David Sedaris. His prose is generally short, funny, and full of current American culture. He's not for the kiddies, but he doesn't aim to be. Classics are tempting, but often have too much obscure, arcane, and just plain outdated language.
I hope this can be a help. If you want to discuss further, you can send me a private message or an e-mail.
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