TESOL Course Articles
Adjusting to Eastern Expectations: China and `Cha bu duo`

Moving smoothly into your TESOL Course and new life in China requires that you learn about cultural differences. Sometimes Chinese words and expressions are a good guide towards some of these differences. In particular, when a word or phrase is complex to translate, it often means there is a cultural difference involved.

`Cha bu duo` is one such expression. Directly translated, it means, `not much off,` and can mean `close enough`. So if you`re buying a new shirt and it`s a little too big you might say, `cha bu duo,` and buy it anyway. However, cha bu duo is also used to describe sloppy work. A carpenter that installs a door that scrapes on the floor when opening and closing or a tailor whose buttons fall off of a new shirt can be said to have done cha bu duo work.

In the West poor workmanship, low quality and carelessness also occur. However, in China, cha bu duo is a more insidious problem because it often means a problem has been identified but no attempt is going to be made to improve the situation or fix the problem.

This occurs frequently with specific workers/employees and specific office tasks. Below are some examples of how many schools can be cha bu duo.

If a school is foreign managed, many of the above problems can be reduced. However, the foreign manager(s) must be very knowledgeable about Chinese customs in order to prevent them from happening. That`s because many Chinese staff and managers may not see these problems as things that need to be reduced.

Many foreign teachers also take a cha bu duo attitude without realizing that they are inviting it in return. Below are some examples of how many teachers can be cha bu duo.

Although many teachers are professional throughout their TESOL Course and teaching term, and do not do the above things, there are many teachers who do. `Those who live in glass houses shouldn`t throw stones.` This expression applies very well in this situation. When Foreign teachers want reduce the amount of cha bu duo at their school, they must work on making sure that they are not being cha bu duo themselves. Every time you are cha bu duo you are giving your school permission to be cha bu duo. If you are never cha bu duo you`ll have much more luck in convincing your school to minimize how often they are cha bu duo.

Looking for ways to reduce your cha bu duo frequency also requires you to consider what is most important to your Chinese school, employer, co-workers, and friends.

Foreign teachers all know the `golden rule` which says, `Do unto others as you would have them do unto you`.

Thinking about this rule through your TESOL Course and in your work is a great idea. However, in international dealings, there`s another rule that is even better. Let`s call this the `platinum rule`. This rule states, `Do unto others as they would have you do unto them`. This is more complicated since it requires that you know how they would like you to act.

If you act in a way that you would like others to act towards you, (Golden Rule), you will only make others of your culture comfortable. You may make people from other cultures very uncomfortable. Therefore, to make sure you`re not being cha bu duo, learn and think about what others` expectations and desires are.

Learning about and understanding cultural differences are essential for you to enjoy and receive the greatest benefits from your time in China both during your TESOL Course and after.

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