they are young

Mark has been an English teacher in China since the beginning of 2004,  in that time he has taught English to first and second year University students in several cities across China, including Hangzhou, Huaihua, Guilin, Yantai, Chaozhou, Taiyuan, and most recently in Zhuzhou in Hunan.

He lives with his wife and two daughters.  Mark is originally from London, but grew – up in Melbourne, Australia where he worked (amongst other things) as a film director, graphic designer and artist.

He is currently building a home in a small coastal town in the southern Philippines, where his wife is originally from. He enjoys teaching (most of the time) but is now content to be a father and husband.

Mark will make an occasional contribution to this site, giving another insight to “The Middle Kingdom”. His photography captures a China least seen.


photo: Mark Hobbs


One of my three ‘non-English major’ classes at “Taiyuan Institute of Technology”,  Taiyuan, Shanxi Province. I asked my students to compose an essay describing what they know about the history of their families. This is from one of my students, the spelling and grammar mistakes are included.

My great grandmother was born of a poor family. She had to be as a servant for a landlord. She suffered alot. She doesn’t have enough food to feed in, and doesn’t have enough cloths to shelter from cold. She was treated unfairly by her master.
Also my grandmothers didn’t improve much. Her feet were also bandedwith great pain. She had given five childrens birth. Unfortunatly, three of them dided of hunger. This made my grandmother very sad. She cried and cried for three days. And what was worse her husband dided of illness. She became a widow for thirty years through hardship and difficulties.
My mothers life was a little better than them, since she was born just when the New China was born. My mother is not very tall, but she is very kind and beautiful. She treated  as tenderly. Of course her life was not very satisfactory at all. She had to make a living through hard work. She went out on cold days for getting grass for pigs, carried coal from far away for heat; and she stayed up sewing for us. She contributed her life to her family.

I had difficulty in giving this and my other students any mark for these essays, they touched me in a way that I could never explain. All I said to the class was that, “they did very well……”


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