The English Teachers


Li Hui (Annie)—You’ve already met Annie in a previous post.  She’s still working hard at trying to contain my exuberance, and she’s matched it.

Lately, she’s been instrumental in convincing the administration that I needed a microwave oven—and she didn’t stop there.  See “The Visitation,” a post coming up soon.

Just to remind you, Annie graduated from Yantai’s Ludong University in 2005 with a BA in English Education.  She taught in the public schools for two years before moving here to the Qing Quan School.  She teaches English exclusively.

Annie was born in 1983 in Shouguang (Chinese: 寿光), a suburb of Weifang, a city located in western Shandong.  She married Wei Shan Yue (Tom) in 2008 and has been trying to satisfy his appetite since (I’ve watched him eat, and there’s no satisfying his hunger.)  Tome and Ann, as of now, have no children, but are considering it.  (Considering means, I think, that they’re hoping for a family addition in the next few years.)


Liu Ai Li (Nancy)—Nancy teaches one of my high school classes (HS G1.1-10th grade).  She’s been teaching here at Qingquan for 8 years.  She was born in Hei Lang Jiang Province Province in the far northeast (next to Siberia and very, very cold). Nancy has a Bachelor’s in English from the Normal Northeast University in Jilin Province (Southwest of Heilangjiang Province—and also very, very cold.  Nancy’s married to Wong Zhang Qiang and has a 14-year old son, Wong Ren Tao.

We both have our hands (heads?) full with her class.  Their 1.1 designation means they tested the highest of the 9th grade classes, and they do employ their brains.  We have been reading Act 2, Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet in all the classes and 1.1 seems to be having the most fun.  The story of the introduction of the famous balcony scene to Chinese teenagers merits its own post.  That’s coming.


Li Zhi Hua (Catherine)—Catherine is the Primary School Leader (vice-principal), a rotating appointment.  She teaches Grades 1, 3, & 4 with me.  And, because I guess, we taught together in 2008, she does a great job of anticipating what I’m about to say and do and is my most involved interpreter.  The kids in these early classes are my most enthusiastic students, and spend 10% of their day yelling “Hello, teacher” and “Hello, Bob-ah (I think I started the two-syllable rendition of my name by emphasizing the second “b” when I first introduced myself.)  A number of them will run several yards to confront me with greetings.  When I walk through the hallway while the kids are lining up to do something, the din created by 200 students yelling “Hello, teacher, etc.” is mind-numbing (and very, very loud).

Catherine was born in Shang Xi Province (Two provinces west of Shandong) and has been teaching 15 years (11 at Qingquan and the earlier stint at Shang Xi #14 Middle School).  She attended Tiang Jin Normal near Beijing and left in 1997 to start her teaching career.

Catherine is married to Zhang Jie and has a 4-year old son, Zhang Bo Jun (aka Chris – I named Bo Jun when I was here in 2008).  Final note, Catherine has a buoyant, smiling personality and is perpetually smiling (mostly at my attempts to voice Mandarin)—except, I must add, when she’s trying to rein in the high spirits Bob sometimes imparts to his students.


Zhang Lin (Sara)—Sara is one of our native-born teachers.  At least, she native-born in the sense that she’s from Yantai.  She’s married (Since 2008, when I was here last—she was single then.) to Liu Xinguo, and, as of now, have no children and she hasn’t confided in me if they have imminent plans to change that status.

Sara attended Zaozhuang College (a Teacher-training  school) in Zaozhuang (simplified Chinese: 枣庄), a prefecture-level city in southern Shandong Province from 2003 to 2006.  After starting her teaching career at Qingquan School, Sara attended (and attends) classes at Ludong University here in Shandong.

Sara teaches all grades in the primary school, and combines a mothering instinct with a drill sergeant’s demeanor.  I know (from hand-to-hand experience) that the youngest are the loudest, toughest, and most energetic of all the students.  Sara does a masterful job of keeping them from running me completely nuts.


Wang Lei (Lily)—Lily’s is Qingquan’s secret weapon against the forces of ignorance.  In my limited educational world of QQ, she’s charged with HS G1.4—a class whose members are down on the testing achievement list.

The Stool

When you assume that assumption and then you meet classes 1.4 and 1.5, you realize that the ratings only reflect the relative number of students in High School, Grade 1—and not their relative IQ.  Every HS G1 class is 50+ students or more!  You talk about being cramped in a classroom.  Not only are the HS classes crowded, but the students have to sit on these small stools for the day—and the day is 8-10 hours long.  These students want to learn—and the teachers want to teach.

Lily graduated in 1995 from Ludong University here in Yantai with a Bachelor of Arts in English.  (LU is in Laiyang, a suburb of Yantai.  She received an MA in English Education from Liaocheng University in Liaocheng (Chinese: 聊城), in the far west of Shandong, and

Grand Canal

a city also known as the Water City because the Grand Canal passes through the middle of the city. The Grand Canal, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world.

Lily is married to Tang Wei Tao (James) and has a 3-year old daughter, Tang Hao.  Before coming to Qingquan, Lily taught in Qingdao (aka Tsingtao—yes, that’s where the beer is brewed) on the southwest coast of Shandong) at the Cheng Yang #1 Middle School.  Lily is naturally a quiet person, but you sense her involvement with her students comes from a deep commitment to education.  She’s good-hearted and generous and if she gives me any more small gifts, I’m going to have to buy another suitcase to get everything home!


Zhou Xiao Hong (Chili)—Chili is one of my uniquely different teachers.  She’s not married!  But, she’s confided in me (so much for confiding in Bob) that there are plans afoot to end her single status in October. Her fiancee is Zhang Bin (I hope that wasn’t confidential.) and he’s also from Yantai (makes dating easier).

Chili, like Sara, is Yantai-born, and her parents still live here.  She has been teaching at Qingquan for four years (and thus has taught with Bob before), and before that at the Shang Yao Primary School.  She has attended Ludong University studying English, but has not yet earned her degree.

She’s asked me to tell you that she loves movies, especially romantic movies and comedies.  I told her it was easy to get the two confused.

Chili, like Sara, is another of those drill sergeants in the guise of a primary school teacher.  She brooks no nonsense—and believe me, these kids are full of it.  She teaches exclusively in the Middle School and thus is responsible for three grades of children whose hormones are just being discovered.  Not an enviable job!


Xing Li (Carolyn)—Carolyn (she prefers the pronunciation Caroline) is another Yantai native.  Carolyn is apparently single, but when I asked her, she said, “It’s private.”  You may interpret that any way that you wish.

She started teached at Qingquan just this semester, and has been given HS responsibility.  She and I teach the HS G1.5, but as discussed before, that ranking belies the actuality of where the students fit in the natural IQ order.

Carolyn’s college career started at Shandong University of Science & Technology in Zibo, Shandong.  Zibo is well known as the historical state of Qi, which had ever been the most populous city in the east about 2000 years ago.  Carolyn received her BA in English from UST and later, just this year, her MA in English from the Ocean University of China, located in Qingdao.

Carolyn’s nature is to be a friendly, open person, and we have had some interesting conversations based on her curiosity about the US, Americans, Brits, and Aussies.  She doesn’t understand us at all.  For that matter, I have been in all three places and I don’t understand us at all either.

There you have it.  These are the seven teachers that I currently share classrooms with.  From time to time, as my opinions/experiences grow with these teachers, I may amend or add to these observations.  So, don’t forget to check back.

Note:  The average age of the teachers in the Qingquan School is 35.  Their salary, based on experience, is between 2,000 and 3,000 Yuan per month ($300-$500).  They usually teach 5 or 6 days and 8-9 hours per day.  During the school year, they have about 15 days of holiday.

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One Response to The English Teachers

  1. Bob VanSteenburg says:


    I really enjoy your postings. Thanks for all of the info. After our visit to China last year I find that I have a great fascination with the country.

    Don’t know if you are able to keep with the ‘Horns over there. Last night they beat A&M 6-4 to ensure at least a tie for the Big 12 title (baseball). Jean and I were at the game. There was a 90 min rain delay in the middle of the 7th with the score at 4-4.

    One other sports note, I’m sure you saw that Turgeon (A&M basketball coach) went to MD. I was kinda hoping the Barnes would get the job.

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