Bittersweet.

“It smells bitter”.

These words were said by a Chinese friend of mine, well, technically she is my boss for a weekend job, but she is too chill to put into that category so I now upgrade her to ‘friend’ status.

“How strange”, I thought, “can you use the word bitter to describe smell?”
“And if not”, I continued, “What word is there to compare this scent?”

For two minutes I sat in silence in their car. Here I am, a native English speaker, perplexed by such a short, strange, statement.

This made me feel rather inadequate, as I am contractually hired to be an Oral English Teacher.

Uh oh.

As it turns out (agreed upon by a few foreigners I spoke too) the word ‘bitter’ is a little awkward to use when describing scent. The closest word we could think to use was ‘acrid’.

This is one reason I love working as an English teacher in China. The amount of strange English questions I encounter is fascinating, and makes me want to learn more about his language I’ve supposedly mastered. Yet, I feel sorry for the kids, as I cannot give them a proper definitive reason why the word ‘companion’ is better than ‘companies’ when describing the affection felt for a dog. I know that one word is correct, but I do not know why I feel it is.

How is it that I learnt English so well, but this school system in China is so inadequate? What did I do that was different? I wish I could remember. China needs this more than ever if it is to become a global powerhouse. They need people who understand intransitive verbs, and how Past Perfect tense expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past (it can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past). I enjoy my job immensely, but I cannot stay here forever, as I will be detrimental to the advancement of English is this environment.

I am paid to be interesting, and nothing more.

(However it is still a wonderful way to spend my early 20’s time and I couldn’t wish for a better experience personally).

What is your opinion? Do you think experiences in different job environments aids you? Should what you study be ‘the’ definer in regards to jobs you undertake, or should you look outwards? Can you really learn on the go? I’m interested in what you have to say.

Thanks again for reading.

E.

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