Thursday 1 November 2001, Language School Year, Warminster, England

I bought a radio to practice English listening as I could l hardly understand anything people talked about outside the classroom. Although I found if I just smiled politely when others talked to me and I had no idea what they were saying and answered “yes” to all yes-or-no questions, I would be fine most of the times, sometimes, it got me into awkward situations. Last week, I went to the local supermarket to buy some milk and the cashier asked me whether I would like any cash back. I had no idea what cash was as China had no cards or cheques but only cash at the time, so people merely used the word money instead. But given it was a yes-or-no question, I answered “yes”. She went on to ask, “How much?” No idea how much what, so smiling! It took the lady asking the same questions over and over again to figure out I probably didn’t want any cash back and let me off with just the milk.

This morning when the housemistress passed by my room and saw me listening to the radio, she said encouragingly: “good you are starting to learn French already, that is definitely something useful if you live in England.”

“I am not learning French, Ms.”

“But you are listening to a French radio station?”

No wonder I could not understand a word, I thought it was just my listening. “Can you change it to an English station for me please, Ms?”

I felt much better after the housemistress switched the channel to BBC for me. Even though I still hardly understood a word, at least I had the confidence I was working in the right direction.


Score: Me: 1, English: 738