Teach English in Chenji Zhen - Yancheng Shi

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Fifteen years ago, I arrived in Australia. I was born in Detroit, raised in Toronto, then moved to New Zealand and married a Kiwi. We decided to move our family to the warmth of Australia in 2005. Until then I thought that Australia and New Zealand were very similar, with the same language and only a slight difference in accent. After all, this was the country 'across the ditch.' It seemed that it would be very familiar after living in NZ for almost two decades. But there were brash and subtle differences. With my experiences I can suggest ways to overcome these and enjoy learning English in Australia. The first problem area was language. They have a confusing Australian-Cockney slang, meant for those who 'know the code.' Sentences become a 2-step language puzzle with a matching, unstated rhyme. For instance, "tell a porky pie" has nothing to do with food or eating! The trick is to apply the rhyming (last word) rule. So, what rhymes with pie? Sometimes the context might help you to guess that it's 'to tell a lie.' But expect a brain teaser and approach it with humour. They understand that visitors won't know these phrases and enjoy explaining them. Both Australians and New Zealanders often speak quickly, with no gaps between their words. That took focused listening to train my ear to their speed. I mastered listening to it before I came over, but it took time. Try comprehending a sentence like "Yah,nahtherugbyisontomorrownight." In other English speaking countries they tend to pace and separate words more than in Australia (and New Zealand). But it's easy to ask them to "repeat that slowly please." Generally, they're happy to slow down. Also, often people get a nickname, usually ending in a vowel. For instance, John becomes Jonno, Darren becomes Dazza, Sharon becomes Shazza, Gary becomes Gazza and so on. Mine was usually Lozza. It was strange to be renamed by someone that I'd just met, but it's only a friendly gesture . It's just a habit for some locals, so it's best to let them carry on if it is not a problem to you. Common English words also get shortened frequently. Does the word have three syllables or more? Well, let's abbreviate it down to two syllables! 'See you this afternoon' you say? No, we'll see you this 'Arvo.' Do you have a motorboat? You mean a 'tinny?' 'Did you have a bingle?' Well I guess your car will be in the shop for a while. Australian English has many words like this, and it has entertained me for years. I find it best to adapt to them with good-natured curiousity. One more thing about Australia; be prepared for the foulest expletives you might ever hear in English. It will come from men and women, young and old, in the pub or the boardroom! This commonplace swearing shocked me at first. Eventually I became used to it, and now, I accept this use of language as part of the culture. You don't have to participate, though. Learn the words and their meanings, so they're not repeated inappropriately. Speaking of culture, there were further surprises. Although it's now a multicultural country, Aborigines came 60,000 years ago. When the Europeans arrived in the 1700's, it was a difficult and bloody change which carried on even up to the 1970's. People still feel sensitive about the poor treatment and the history. Now, Indigenous Australians are as Aussie as anywhere else, whether in cities or regional areas. Learning about a country's culture is incomplete without learning about the history, good and bad, and it helps a Learner to be sensitive to current issues. When the Europeans came, many were convicts and government workers. The convicts were Irish and British men and women. Eventually when released, they often became servants or labourers. To this day that working class culture is strong. Free-spirited 'tradies' (tradesmen) support themselves and their families as they stick together in groups with loyal bonds of 'mateship.' I found that it helped to settle and make friends by joining some nearby special interest groups. Learners can join an ESL meetup group to find local and international friends. Finally, there was the challenging environment. Summers are extremely hot in Australia. Temperatures can rise above 40 degrees across the continent. So, being a fun-loving, social culture, get-togethers happen near the water. If something is wrong, the answer is, "let's go to the beach." If something is right, the answer is, "let's go to the beach." If they live inland, they go to a lake, a pond or a pool. They take a tent or caravan and camp near or far with friends and family. But what's surprising is that over 20 million people have figured out ways to overcome one of the most deadly natural environments in the world: fire ants, spiders and snakes on land; crocodiles, sharks, jellyfish and undercurrents at sea. The 10 most dangerous snakes in the world are all in Australia. They have learned to navigate the hazards. It may not be all kangaroos and koalas, but they still enjoy themselves while throwing a few shrimps on the barbie and having a couple of brews with their best mates. As an English Learner it is possible to avoid these serious challenges with just a few common sense rules and an awareness of the surroundings. Australian life is exciting and fun. The people are active and passionate. So, to overcome these problems, go to the beach, the forest or the parks. Choose to drive far or stay local. Within a short period of time the environmental hazards, strong personalities and colourful language will be a normal part of daily life. Once you have all your ducks in a row, Bob's your uncle and everything will be right as rain. Good on ya.