Shengliver’s Note: This is a revised entry. The first version was done in February, 2008. My new term for 2010 has begun. Most of the times mentioned below will still be followed in the New Year. Carry on, Shengliver.


"Beep, beep, beep …”


My alarm beeper went off at 5.45 this morning. My winter vacation is over and everything has come back to normal. I have had a quiet and restful holiday. I avoided some banquets and took the time to sort out my thoughts, reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the future.


This entry is a reminder to Shengliver of some important times daily and weekly.




I get up at 5.45 am in winter and 5.30 am in summer. This habit dates back to the 1990s, when I was green in the career. A senior colleague of mine, Mr Yang, whom I respect very much, was a regular early bird. Living an active and productive life, he set an example to me.


After washing, I head for my office. It is quiet at such an early hour. By the time I am in the office, the teenagers are already queuing up for their morning run in the square. I put water in the water dispenser and turn it on before opening the windows to air the room.


The time before breakfast is reserved for intensive listening. There are chosen English audio files on my donkey. My plan is to listen to them and to be immersed in the spoken word first thing in the morning. Cassette tapes played a big role before I had my own computer. I had already collected a wide range of language tapes long before I gained access to digital technology. Since I switched from analogue to digital, Shengliver’s English learning and language practice have been more efficient.


My intensive listening is focused on those choice clips. I listen to a clip a lot of times. Of course I have heard all of them in my evening washing hour before I process them intensively in the morning. I try and hear each and every word in each clip. And I transcribe the speech on Microsoft Office Word. This learning task is time-consuming but rewarding. Simple words on paper can be hard to make out when uttered casually by a native or a world English speaker.




Time to go back home for the lunch break if I do not have to teach in the last period of the morning. My wife works pat-time as an accountant at a small firm in town. I will wash the ingredients for lunch cooking and put rice in the cooker. If she is too late, I will do the lunch. My daughter normally gets home for lunch around 12.15. It is a good chance to chat with family over lunch and compare notes on work and school. We share anecdotes of people and things around us.




Time to grab an hour’s sleep if lunch is early and on schedule. This hour of snooze is important, for I work and feel the best in the afternoon. However, if lunch is late, I will probably have to do without this luxury.




It is time to knock off. It normally takes me 10 minutes or so to walk from my office to home. Upon arrival, I turn on the home donkey before I go and refresh myself by having a cold-water wash of my face. Then, I log onto the UC messenger and enter the English chat-room for my daily volunteer speaking, which lasts an hour from 6.30 to 7.30. I have done volunteer speaking in the China English chat-room on UC SINA for a number of years. I will stick to this practice in the years to come whatever might occur.


This volunteering experience has been an immense help to me and to my learning buddies. Learning the language in China can be boring, frustrating and painfully slow for a lack of language environment. The virtual community has created a wonderland where learners of the language can put their knowledge and skills to use. It exists on the web but the communication platform is in every respect genuine. It is the first time that a lot of friends there have found their English voice heard.


The Web is just like the real world. Good guys and bad guys are side by side but still there is good order there. And good guys are in the majority. I have found almost everyone is positive and courteous. Occasionally some negative guys may turn up. Listening to them babbling along helps me to form a balanced picture of Shengliver.


Stay modest, confident, passionate and warm, I have told myself. This talking experience is valuable for me and for my pals as well. I have to give thanks to the moderators of the community. Learners of English in China appreciate your service.




Get offline. Time for supper. It is tempting to stay online, checking out news and emails or lingering on some page. Shengliver, be firm. Turn off the messenger and go to the dinner table. A whole evening of work and learning is waiting for you. I will put on my mobile headset and turn on the BBC radio podcasts. The podcasts will see me through my dinner and an hour of dishwashing and cleaning in the kitchen.


If my daughter has finished her meal after I do my speaking online, I will sit down and chat with her about her work. Or we may listen to the speech recordings that go with her English course book.




I should be in bed by 23.00. Should any desire to stay up arise, I will remind myself of the next day. When will you get up tomorrow morning, Shengliver?


Monday Morning


I download all the choice BBC podcasts for a week’s listening before breakfast on Monday morning. Connection in the office in the early hour is fast and stable. All the downloads can be done in a matter of less than 20 minutes.


Friday Afternoon


On Friday afternoon, my two classes will hand in their journals. This journal programme was quite a success last semester. I will keep it up this semester. All the journals will be read and commented on over the weekend. This task takes priority over any other job on the weekend. The journals will be returned to the students before they leave for a short break.


Reading their journal entry and commenting is a good way to learn about the teenagers. I have learned a lot this way about their hobby, family and even some privacy. I was once honoured by their sharing of a puppy love story.


Their attempt at expressing themselves in written English helps me figure out a proper way to say it. I do not correct all their errors. When reading, I am trying to answer a question on my mind, “What is the writer trying to get across?” I try to follow what they are saying. In one entry, I highlight one or two conspicuous, habitual or recurring mistakes the writer has made. Because the focus is on meaning, I read fast and never feel it is dragging.


My comments in English are spontaneous. Last semester my comments were welcomed by the journal keepers. In fact, every weekend the pupils were waiting for their journals and my comments made on them.


To bring this entry to a close, I have put one of my pictures in the profile. I hope my epals have a better look at Shengliver. Shengliver is just Shengliver – with two eyes, two ears and a big nose and mouth. Nothing special.


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