Shengliver’s Note: Let’s learn from the kids.


I have three interesting epals. All are called Lucy. The Internet has brought us together for the English language. Let me introduce them to you, my dear readers. All have something in common yet each is different in her own way.




I met this Lucy in May last year. She was a fourth grader in primary school then. Her location is Shashi City, Hubei Province.


Lucy has a distinctive American accent. She is bold and curious. I have no idea from whom she learned her English. She told me that she had some Internet chat pals from the USA.


Lucy’s mom is a doctor. When Lucy is speaking English on the web, her mum is listening by her side. I bet Lucy’s English is better than her mum’s. Her father is a businessman. She cannot see her dad often because the father travels a lot around the country.


Lucy sent me messages by email. She told me about her school, family and friends. I learned that she had a quarrel with one of her best friends because this friend would not invite one of their classmates to her birthday party. The reason, Lucy said, was that the uninvited girl was from a poorer family and was wearing shabby clothes. Oh, Lucy has a heart of gold.


I answered her email messages in English. Some of my replies add up to two entries in the blog archives.


After the summer vacation last year, Lucy became a fifth grader. She explained to me that she could no longer talk on the web because she had to do a lot of homework daily. Since then, I have seen none of her. Hopefully, our touch could be resumed anytime for we still have each other’s email links.




This Lucy was a fifth grader in primary school, and in the new semester, she will start middle school. She is located in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province.


I met Lucy earlier on this year, probably in the spring. She was a fifth grader then. Her mum probably introduced her to Shengliver.


Lucy has a big family. Her family has five members – her parents, her grandparents and her. It is rare in Chinese towns to have three generations share one flat.


The family member she likes best is her granddad. The old man calls her by a pet name, hehe, the Chinese name of the water plant lotus. Her granddad does a lot of housework – cooking three meals for the family, cleaning and tidying and probably shopping too. However, Lucy shared a secret with me. She said she did not like her grandma very much. She said the old lady was lazy and slept a lot.


Lucy’s mom is an accountant and her father a lorry driver. So both her parents have to work during the day and the family get together in the evening. Her dad works harder. Some evenings, while I was talking with Lucy, I learned her father was still at the wheel on the road.


Lucy is an excellent pupil in her class and in her school. She is extremely good at maths. She took part in a maths contest and won a prize. Her Chinese is very good, too. And her English is fabulous. I reckon she is one of the best students at English in her class.


Lucy is bold and daring as well. I asked her all kinds of questions and she was able to respond. When she could not follow me, she used expressions like “Pardon” to avoid getting stuck. She learns very fast. Some everyday English words like air-conditioner were picked up easily by Lucy.


Lucy is a typical urban Chinese kid. She works hard at school and does her homework in the evening. On the weekend and in the summer holiday, she has to attend extra lessons to gain herself an edge. As far as I know, she goes to dancing lessons besides Chinese, maths, and English ones. Hard work, but it seems that she enjoys them. She does not feel pressured to attend such lessons by her parents the way many kids do. She is a good dancer, for she performed a dance with some of her classmates at the graduation ceremony in July.


Lucy was a student leader at her school. One evening she proudly told me that she had been on duty the past week, checking all the classes of her school for their classroom order and cleanliness.


This autumn, Lucy will enter the local Cambridge Foreign Language School. I wish her good luck in middle school. And we remain definitely good friends.




I encountered this Lucy this spring. She is from Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province. She comes over and talks with me probably because her mum hears me speaking and then introduces Shengliver to her.


Lucy is a smart girl. She speaks naturally. With a limited vocabulary, she is still able to keep the communication going by talking around some difficult words. For example, she mentioned “a bird’s home” before I said it was “a nest”. She responded to my questions and fired questions at me. The communication between Lucy and Shengliver is real and genuine. We use the language to learn about each other.


Lucy’s mother is a full-time engineer working at a telecommunications firm. She has to work all day and comes back in the evening. Lucy’s father is a worker at the government and seems to be a leader or something. He is so busy that he is not home a lot of evenings. What is he doing then in the evenings? According to Lucy, he is either drinking with his colleagues or friends at a restaurant or on duty in the office. Poor father! He has no time for his family.


She has completed primary school too, just like Lucy No. 2. Lucy No. 2 stayed five years for primary school in Heilongjiang Province while Lucy No. 3 spent six years for primary school in Zhejiang Province. Educational policies vary slightly from province to province. Lucy did her graduation tests very well. I suppose she got through with flying colours.


After she left primary school, she went to sit an entrance exam organised by a local elite middle school – Wenzhou Foreign Language School. How did she do? One evening she announced she had some news to break. “I have passed the test and will be a student there this autumn!” She is the only one of the pupils in her class who is admitted to the middle school.


Lucy’s summer holiday is like most urban kids’. Both of her parents have to work during the day and so she is left alone at home. She does reading, watches TV and plays some computer games. A bit boring, I bet. Neither her mum nor her dad can come home for lunch. She goes to buy a meal at a community takeaway. Her lunch is some sandwich, hamburger or yogurt. Why doesn’t she have some Chinese meals? Well, the restaurant does not offer traditional Chinese meals, and she has to go there because she gets meals cheaper using a coupon her mum has got for her.


Lucy is kind. There is a hole in a wall of her home, which was left there after an air-conditioner was installed. A bird family has nested there for some time. One day a birdie fell off the nest and had one of its legs broken. Lucy babied it for a few days but unluckily the creature died in the end.


I wish Lucy No. 3 all the best in Wenzhou. May she excel in middle school, too.


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