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Book by an ESL Teacher


Fike2308
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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZY43H33 (This book is not intended to duplicate what Peter Hessler has done. It's more focused on eccentric, and sometimes pretentious, types who teach ESL in China.)

 

This is a collection of short stories about my life in Beijing during 2016 as an English teacher.

I interacted with some interesting characters in 2016 including a crazy Canadian woman, an Australian neighbor obsessed with 9/11 conspiracy theories, a colleague trying to grow marijuana in his apartment, a suicidal student, a colleague with a passion for massages and a sour Serbian woman.

I also traveled around China outside of Beijing and explored Xi'an, Luoyang, Guilin, Feng Huang Ancient Town and Zhang Jia Jie, also known as the Avatar Mountains. This book contains over 100 photos all taken by the author.

china book cover.jpg

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This is very thin soup, very weak tea. Glad I read it for free through Amazon. If I had paid the asking price of $2.99, I would have felt really cheated. 

 

Read the thing in about an hour. Last third or so is mostly direct quotes from Wikipedia, links to the author's Youtube videos, and photos that he took during some of his travels. If you want to see these photos in color as they were intended, you need to read the book on the desktop Kindle App. If you read it in the Kindle reader, they are black and white as well as being very small. 

 

A few mildly interesting characters are introduced, but not enough detail is presented to flesh them out and make them seem real. The writing style is leaden and juvenile. Composition is full of errors as well as having no flow and no drive. Example sentence (Location 977) -- 

 

Quote

"Some people come to China to find one or two dishes they like and aren't scared to eat, learn how to say it in Chinese and eat nothing else for their first few months (or longer) which I find a bit odd but I guess we all have our favorite dishes."

 

I realize this is a genre book, designed to give us a look into the dysfunctional world of teaching English in China, but it walks in the footsteps of some really good ones, such as several by Peter Hessler. Unfortunately, it does not measure up. 

 

 

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Twenty years on from River Town I think we're well past the novelty stage of expositions of what teaching in China is like - especially if we're talking about Beijing and not a small town in Sichuan.  I think the fact that most of the unique characters mentioned are not Chinese speaks volumes - if I remember correctly, the only non-Chinese person in Hessler's book was his colleague who got a few brief mentions.

 

Then again, comparisons with Hessler may be a little harsh, after all he did take what is one of the most highly regarded writing classes for this genre.

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Well, I haven't read Hessler's books though I am aware of them and their content so I wasn't really trying to duplicate his work. I just thought it would be fun to write some stories about the types of characters who come to China to teach. A lot of ESL teachers are quirky and eccentric and I personally enjoy reading about other peoples' experiences in China because, even though there might be some overlap, everyone does have their own unique experience.

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20 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Last third or so is mostly direct quotes from Wikipedia, links to the author's Youtube videos, and photos that he took during some of his travels.

 

I'm sorry but this part isn't factually accurate. I reviewed the last third of the book  and do concede that there are many pictures (by design) but 'mostly direct quotes from Wikipedia'? That's a pretty big exaggeration. I think I quoted a line about Luoyang and two paragraphs about the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an. The rest of the text is all original but I did say at the start of that section that it was intended to be more image than text based. I took thousands of photos during my travels and wanted to share them with those who may not have the same travel opportunities as you or I. Unfortunately, you make that sound like a bad thing.

 

I can try to make the pictures larger, fair point I suppose, but if you look at them on a black and white kindle then, obviously, the images will appear in black and white. It would be like watching a color movie on a black and white TV. I have a Kindle Fire so when I look at those pics they do appear in color.

 

I do welcome constructive criticism and honest feedback and if you, or anyone, has some specific suggestions or ideas about how I could improve this book then I would like to hear them but if you're just going to insult me and/or my work then it just makes you sound like one of those pretentious ESL teachers I wrote and joked about.

 

I like living, working and traveling in Asia but it amazes how many know-it-all, advanced degree holding, self-proclaimed High IQ types I meet who teach ESL to children or high school students. 

 

 

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7 hours ago, Fike2308 said:

I do welcome constructive criticism and honest feedback and if you, or anyone, has some specific suggestions or ideas about how I could improve this book then I would like to hear them but if you're just going to insult me and/or my work then it just makes you sound like one of those pretentious ESL teachers I wrote and joked about.

 

 

Mr. Fike, I read your book and did not like it. Thought it was poorly done and a waste of time. I left a negative review. Get over it. No need to start calling names. 

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3 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Mr. Fike, I read your book and did not like it. Thought it was a waste of time. I left a negative review. Get over it. No need to start calling names. 

 

Mr. (or Mrs.) abcdefg, you are obviously entitled to your opinion and not required in any way to like my book. I was just hoping I could elicit some feedback more useful than "Did not like it, waste of time, negative review, get over it". You seem like a negative person and, sorry if it offends you, you do remind me of a certain type of teacher I've encountered in China. That's not name calling. That's making a comparison but even if it was name calling I would offer you your own advice and tell you to get over it.

 

I hope there are some readers out there who, regardless if they like or dislike my book, can provide me with some useful feedback, suggestions, a constructive critique, etc. 

 

Just being negative isn't helpful.

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