The Fossilization of Ms. Hsu’s English

Introduction

This project analyzes the language produced by someone who speaks English as a second language. Analysis of a learner’s errors can help shed light on how individuals acquire or fail to acquire a second language. Corder maintained, “A learner’s errors… are significant in they provide evidence of how language is learned or acquired, what strategies or procedures the learner is employing in the discovery of language” (1967, p. 167). This study investigates the speaker’s errors and performance, the sources of these difficulties, social distance, psychological distance and address possible reasons for the speaker’s fossilization.

Having a foundation in how language is acquired can help foreign language instructors and teachers of English to students of other languages become more effective educators. This knowledge can guide instruction and help teachers better meet the instructional needs of their students, help them achieve academic success, and/or navigate living and socializing outside of the country they were born into.

Participant

Rebecca Hsu (name changed for confidentiality) is a 42-year Taiwanese woman in Caotun Township, Nantou County. She has been married for sixteen years. She is a salesperson at a factory in Nantou City’s Nangang Industrial Area that produces conveyor belts predominantly for mining operations. She joined this job last year after quitting her job as a global sales manager for a company in the same area that produced steel wire rope for automotive, industrial, and medical purposes. Recently, she has started working a few hours every week teaching children’s yoga at a dance studio in town. Her husband is an interior designer who largely focuses on residential projects but recently has had a few clients with small commercial projects. Together, they have two children. Their son is thirteen years old and a student at Caotun Junior High School. Their daughter is seven years old and a first grader at Yanfeng Elementary School. Rebecca and her husband are family friends of ours and I have been giving their son one-on-one English lessons on Wednesday evenings for the past year and a half.

Rebecca didn’t start seriously studying English until she enrolled in Fengjia University in Taichung City. She joined the campus’s English clubs and took intensive English courses at a cram school near campus while completing her bachelor’s degree in International Trade. After graduating Fengjia University, she continued intensive English courses at the same cram school while working the front desk at an area hotel. In 2000, she enrolled in Texas A&M’s MBA program and took several English for academic purposes courses while pursuing her degree. Upon completing the program, she moved back to Taiwan.

Rebecca’s job requires her to use English on a daily basis. She reads and composes emails in English every day. She also uses English when interacting with customers over the phone and during face-to-face meetings during business trips or factory tours for visiting customers. Some of these English interactions are held with customers whose first language is English and others, like her, are speaking English as a second language.

Data Collection and Setting

The conversations that were analyzed for this project took place in Rebecca’s home on four Wednesday evenings in February and March, 2018. The conversations began around 8:30 p.m. after my classes with her son concluded. Three of the conversations took place at their dining room table. One of the conversations took place on the family’s living room sofa because her daughter was doing homework at the dining room table. The house was quiet during each of the conversations. With the exception of the second meeting when her daughter was at the kitchen table, we were the only two on that floor of the house.

Rebecca is a good friend of my wife and our families have often done things together so the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly during our conversations. Early in the semester she asked me if I was going to be busy with coursework this semester. When I described this project to her she offered to be a participant as she was curious to find out “just how bad” her English had become. I explained to her that the project wasn’t to judge or grade anyone’s English ability but rather describe errors and possible reasons for those errors. I believe having a clear understanding of the nature of this project helped put her at ease and helped ensure she did not self-monitor to the point of hindering our conversations.

Description of Identified Errors

Most of the observed errors were local errors. These errors did not impede communication. Two global errors were observed, these were: “They need to learn a lot of stuff not just measures classes but they also need to go to cram school to learn all kinds of hobbies” (3/14/2018) and “They rarely centralize them. The kids are highly self-confident, on the other hand they don’t care about other people” (3/21/2018). Each of these global errors were lexical in nature. In the first example of a sentence containing global errors the speaker used measures classes instead of required classes and hobbies instead of extracurricular activities. In the second sentence the speaker used centralize instead of criticize or discipline. In the first example, I asked for clarification. In the second example I had an idea what the speaker was talking about based on what she said afterwards. I believe that if the speaker made these utterances around someone who was not accustomed to interacting with someone who speaks English as a second language there may have been a strong chance of a breakdown in communication.

Several local errors were omission and substitution errors. These errors were mostly grammatical when the speaker omitted the inflectional -ed ending on regular past tense verbs or substituted the present tense verb form when expressing the past tense: “More than I have his age” (3/14/2018); “We hop on the train and the train started” (3/28/2018); and “In the end we still get a ticket like 60 euro a person” (3/28/2018). These can be categorized as local errors because they did not inhibit communication. In the first example, the speaker used have instead of had. In the second example, she used hop instead of hopped. In the third example, Rebecca used get instead of got. Other local errors involved omitting the copula be from sentences or substituting it with the incorrect form: “When I on the internet something jump in front of my eye…” (2/28/2018); “The kids I teaching from 3 to 7 years old” (2/28/2018); and “When I am a student we only know like study hard…” (3/14/2018). In the first sentence, the speaker omitted was, in the second sentence she omitted am, and in the the third sentence she substituted am for was. These errors also did not impede communication.

Analysis and Discussion

Of the global lexical errors observed, when the speaker used the word hobbies instead of extracurricular activities I believe this was likely due to the speaker never previously learning or encountering the phrase extracurricular activities. If she had heard it or used it before it probably hasn’t been since her days attending Texas A&M. I don’t think the term would ever come up during interactions with customers in her sales position. When native speakers of English think of hobbies we imagine things we do on our own time for pleasure and not something we enroll in a class for.

One of among several differences between Mandarin Chinese and English is that Mandarin is an analytic language with uninflected verbs. Rather than conjugating verbs like in English; Chinese uses time adverbs or aspect particles to indicate how the verb relates to time. This makes learning English tenses and aspects very difficult for L1 Chinese speakers. Rowe and Levine maintain, “Second-language learners whose first languages are analytical or isolating languages, with no inflections, often ignore inflectional affixes” (2015, p. 256). Rebecca made several grammatical errors relating to verb forms during our conversations. Although these were local errors they were frequent enough that they could cause distraction if the listener were unaccustomed to interacting with people speaking English as a second language.

Rebecca did not begin seriously studying English until she was a university student. Brown suggests, “Adult second language linguistic processes are more vulnerable to the effect of the first language on the second, especially the farther apart the two language-learning events are” (2014, p. 67). Ignoring inflectional affixes could be the result of interlanguage interference and Rebecca is preserving aspects of Mandarin resulting in using nonstandard forms of English. In my experience teaching English to L1 Mandarin students of a variety of ages I encounter this frequently even in advanced classes in both speaking and writing.

On social distance, Schumann suggests, “The assumption is that the greater the social distance between the two groups the more difficult it is for the members of the 2LL group to acquire the language of the TL group” (1995, p. 267). Like other middle class families in Taiwan, her household income is far below that of middle class Americans. However, spending power due to lower taxation and more affordable health services likely puts the family at near equal terms with middle class Americans. From talking with Rebecca it seems that she experienced acculturation during her time at Texas A&M: she had a small group of friends from within the International Students’ Association who were L1 Chinese speakers as well as developed close friendships with non-L1 Chinese international students and Americans. During her second year at the university she rented an off-campus apartment with a Spanish international student and an African-American student.

In terms of psychological distance, it is clear that from studying English during her days as a university student in Taiwan to studying abroad that Rebecca was a highly motivated learner. Initially her motivation was to study abroad and get the most out of the experience. She admits that she went to American with the mindset of getting her money’s worth. According to her, it would have been a waste to go all the way to the U.S. just to use English to complete coursework. There is no indication that she was ever cut-off from the target language while earning her MBA abroad. Even alone, she enjoyed watching English-language television programs and only spoke Mandarin when talking with her family on Skype or with other L1 Chinese speakers from the International Students’ Association when speakers of other languages were not around. She has also maintained several of those friendships. She maintains letter correspondences with a handful of American classmates and continues to keep in touch via Skype with her former American and Spanish roommates every two to three months to talk about life in general, hardships of being working mothers, and to “complain about husbands”.

Rebecca has a very strong command of English and no one would reasonably suggest that her persistent use of non-standard linguistic forms represents failure to acquire English by any stretch of the imagination. Brown suggests, “Fossilization is a normal and natural stage for many users of a language, and should not be viewed as flawed or the result of failure” (2014). Most of her interactions in English involve communicating about specifications of the products her company produces and information about delivery of those products. Her customers are all over the world. Some of these customers are native speakers of English and others, like her are also speaking English as a second language. Due to the nature of international business and global supply chains, the people she interacts with are accustomed to interacting with non-native English speakers. I asked Rebecca if she ever has trouble understanding some of her customers. She responded that she has a lot of difficulty understanding the e-mail messages from her Italian and Thai customers, however she just focuses on the important information from the message and can figure out the meaning. When asked if she ever has difficulty during telephone conversations she told me that she just listens carefully for specification numbers or dates and repeats back often to make sure there is no confusion on either side of the conversation. Being able to engage in international business, selling products in which correct specifications are critical demonstrates that despite the use of non-standard linguistic forms, Rebecca has achieved successful English acquisition for her and her company’s needs.

Vigil and Oller’s model suggest that a language learner’s fossilization is the result of the positive affective and positive cognitive feedback that he or she receives (Brown, 2014). Both affective and cognitive feedback may be verbal or take the form of gesture, facial expressions, or tone of voice. Positive affective feedback is feedback given to the learner that maintains the conversation. Positive cognitive feedback is feedback which indicates understanding. The previous company Rebecca worked at for several years manufactured highly-specialized products for applications ranging from medical equipment, automotive, construction, and industrial purposes. Her current company produces products for mining operations. The jargon used in these interactions would likely be difficulty for people outside these industries to understand but Rebecca has thoroughly familiarized herself with the products that both her previous and current company sell. The positive feedback Rebecca receives during her interactions with both L1 and L2 English speakers have resulted in her seemingly permanent incorporation of nonstandard linguistic forms in daily speech. Although Rebecca admits that her English has gotten worse since graduating from Texas A&M, she has also suggested that she’s fine with that because she feels she speaks English well enough to be understood by her customers and when she travels. Her feelings echo Siegel, who would suggest that her fossilized nonstandard linguistic forms are a form of success as Rebecca like others have learned “just enough to communicate what they want to communicate and no more” (2009, p. 585).

Since moving back to Taiwan, Rebecca has noted that her English has “gotten worse”. This backsliding is likely the result of leaving an English-speaking environment in which she was enrolled in courses taught in English, consuming English-language media, and interacting with English speaking roommates, classmates, and friends. One aspect of learning a second language is maintaining it. I played the trumpet from fifth grade through high school. When I picked it up upon straightening out my things in my parents’ basement nearly 15 years later I couldn’t even remember the fingering for the complete chromatic scale. Across the United States there are adults who completed several years of foreign language training and can’t remember much beyond salutations long after graduation. Unfortunately, second language acquisition isn’t quite like riding a bicycle.

Conclusion and Discussion

This project analyzed the errors of Rebecca Hsu, an L1 Chinese salesperson, wife, and mother of two who studied English as a university student and earned her MBA abroad at an American university. She made lasting friendships that she maintains today with both L1 and L2 English-speakers at Texas A&M and uses English on a daily basis at work selling conveyor belts for mining operations around the world. The grammatical errors she made during our conversations were local errors as they did not impede understanding. Only two global errors were observed. These were lexical errors that impeded understanding.

Through my conversations with Rebecca, the required readings for the course, and my own trials and tribulations learning Mandarin, I have gained a great deal of admiration for students and non-students alike who acquire proficiency in another language to the point of being able to use that language in their careers or live and find success in other countries. Brown points out that perhaps stabilization is a more appropriate term than fossilization because it, “…leaves open the possibility for further development at some point in time” (2014, p. 264). Originally, while outlining my project I intended to include a section on suggestions for remediation of Rebecca’s errors. However, although Rebecca admits that her English abilities are getting worse it seems she is able to communicate what she wants to communicate. She has successfully acquired English at a proficiency level high enough for her communication needs at this particular time in her life and career.

References

Brown, H. D. (2014). Principles of language learning and teaching: a course in second language acquisition. White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.

Corder, S. (1967). The significance of learners’ errors. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 5, 161-170.

Rowe, B. M., & Levine, D. P. (2015). A concise introduction to linguistics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Schumann, J. H. (1995). Second language acquisition: The pidginization hypothesis. In H. D. Brown & S. T. Gonzo (Authors), Readings on second language acquisition (pp. 262-280). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents.

Siegel J. (2009) Language contact and second language acquisition. In W. Ritchie & T. Bhatia (Eds.), The new handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 569-589). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd.

Appendix – Conversation Transcripts

Conversation 1 [2/28/2018]:

Me: Your son told me you started teaching children’s Yoga? Is this a potential career change?

Ms. Hsu: I quit my previous job because the company is moving to China and the the company didn’t respect people like workers so I decided to quit. And its a big turning for me.

Me: So you still work the sales job right? Is this something on the side?

Ms. Hsu: Yes, it’s a okay job I can work with and fine paycheck and then I get opportunity to turn back a little bit for something I really like to do when I was little I really want to be a dancer. Or artist.

Me: So how did you find the children’s Yoga group?

Ms. Hsu: When I on the internet something jump in front of my eye its thats being a kids yoga teacher so I use one day to think about it and I went to the class and pay the money.

Me: Did you pay for classes and get a certificate to teach? How long was the process?

Ms. Hsu: I went to the class for two months and get exam and I form the classes for me and my classmates then we teach our kids.

Me: How old are your students?

Ms. Hsu: The kids I teaching from 3 to 7 years old. Kids are very very creative and in the class I’m just a leader but sometimes I let the kids lead the class. For one class I have parents and children.

Me: How are the parents?

Ms. Hsu: I will find the parents are more nervous than the kids.

Me: How so?

Ms. Hsu: The parents will want their kids jump very very high and be number one. If I say now you need to relax they want them to sleep they wont want them to move. If I say now you are running they want the fastest one or I want them to do some position they want the kids to be the perfect.

Me: I know young kids can be challenging in my English class. Are they challenging for you?

Ms. Hsu: You know most boys will want to challenge teacher. I will not say boys but for some active outgoing kids they want to challenge the teacher. Ask them to walk they will run. Ask them to run they will stop.

Me: My son is like that. Always doing the opposite of what I say!

Ms. Hsu: Or will want to do something else. If you say be a frog they will say no I want to be a bunny so usually if it’s not go too far I will let them do whatever they want they want.

Me: How do the parents respond when their kids aren’t following directions?

Ms. Hsu: I think the first five classes the parents are more nervous and very serious and think we are not paying money for nothing. They are not enjoying I can see the kids are enjoying but the parents are nannying them.

Me: Did this get better over time?

Ms. Hsu: Um so before the class we send a message to them. I think it’s the time to lead the parents not the kids. I want them to enjoy and be with kids and do the exercise together not just watching or like super watching. After all, the class become more smooth and they have less and less bother their kids.

Me: I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know much about Yoga. It seems like a good way to relax and exercise.

Ms. Hsu: It is interesting. It’s not just exercise. It has a philosophy. Body language, use your body language to communicate with each other. I don’t know how much it will influence influence to them but I believe from time to time they will value practicing yoga together with their parents.

Me: I’ll look into joining a class maybe when I’m a little less busy. Until then send a message to my wife, she might want to take our son to one of the classes.

Ms. Hsu: Oh, Cathy knows. But our class time is right when she gets off work. That’s why she can’t come to the class.

Me: Well, be sure to keep us posted when you open a class at a different time.

Ms. Hsu: Well, yes, sure.

Me: I’ll see you next time!

Ms. Hsu: Bye bye teacher.

Conversation 2 [3/14/2018]:

Ms. Hsu: Hi teacher. Sorry for last week. Chris is very busy.

Me: Don’t feel bad about having to cancel class last week so your son could catch up on studies. This happens all the time for students I have that are his age.

Ms. Hsu: He always has so much work. More than I have his age.

Me: Do you notice any changes in the education system from when you were a kid compared to now?

Ms. Hsu: At our time, we just take one entrance exam then we will divide by our score for high school or university, you don’t have a lot of choices.

Me: Do you know why this changed?

Ms. Hsu: The government think that’s very very stressful for the students because one exam will decide your future. It’s very serious. So they start to do the revolution to change the system. But I didn’t see it actually release students’ stress.

Me: Do you think students have more stress now?

Ms. Hsu: Yes. I think students nowadays has more stress than we had before.

Me: What do they do differently now?

Ms. Hsu: They need to learn a lot of stuff not just measures classes but they also need to go to cram school to learn all kinds of hobbies.

Me: Hobbies? You mean like extracurricular activities?

Ms. Hsu: Yeah, they need to choose a couple of them and be good at them so when they have a chance to get in good skills.

Me: I have some students. They bring a different bag to school every day. Sometimes they have their regular book bag plus a violin. Other days a Tae Kwon Do bag. Their normal book bags have wheels on them like a carry-on luggage.

Ms. Hsu: Kids have heavier and heavier bags.

Me: Yeah, I remember getting out of school before four o’clock as a kid then doing nothing but ride bikes or go fishing. If it was winter we’d go ice skating or build snow forts.

Ms. Hsu: Some older kids go to school from seven in the morning to ten o’clock in the evening. So from seven to five o’clock is regular school. Then after the regular school they go to cram school for mathematic, English and even Chinese.

Me: I was out waiting for my cycling partner at 5:30 one morning on Saturday and I saw one of my students shooting hoops. I asked him why he was up so early and he told me he didn’t have any time to play basketball.

Ms. Hsu: Yeah, at the weekend, they need to go to many hobbies class likes painting or martial arts and everything has to be scored. So you need to get a lot of numbers to decide where you can go for your education like high school or university.

Me: So how late did you have to stay in school as a student?

Ms. Hsu: When I am a student we only know like study hard we have a standard textbook and the teacher will keep everyone in school until about nine o’clock in the evening. Actually you study in the classroom with your classmates.

Me: Did you have time to pursue your own interests?

Ms. Hsu: I don’t have time to read the books I like. I have to use the weekend to do what I want.

Me: That’s a lot different from when I was growing up. Chris tells me a lot during our classes about how busy he is. How about next time we talk about your daughter? How old is she now?

Ms. Hsu: She’s seven. She’s in first grade.

Me: Ok, she looks busy writing Chinese characters every time I come by. I hope those two get to bed early tonight. I’ll see you next week.

Ms. Hsu: Bye. Thank you. Please drive slowly.

Conversation 3 [3/21/2018]:

Me: Hi Ms. Hsu.

Ms. Hsu: Hi, teacher!

Me: Last time we were talking about education. How is your daughter doing in first grade?

Ms. Hsu: She already has a lot of homework.

Me: How long does she need to do her homework every day?

Ms. Hsu: She starts it at the cram school while I’m working. Sometime, she finish. Sometime take home. Maybe one hours. Sometime three hours.

Me: How long is she in school every day?

Ms. Hsu: She went to school at 7:40 and finish at 12. And send to cram school take a nap, and have the English class and do the homework to five.

Me: Does she have any other activities?

Ms. Hsu: She also want have her favorite painting class till 6:30 in the evening than went home do the homework and she’s very very tired.

Me: I can imagine. When does she go to sleep?

Ms. Hsu: She went to bed at 10 o’clock. And I don’t think that’s right. Um, but what can we do everybody do the same thing.

Me: That has to be exhausting both for her and her parents. I guess you can’t just stop the painting class because she loves it so much.

Ms. Hsu: But she also wants… its a dilemma, we want balance, we are still looking for the way to go. Like you know, you still need to fit into the system and also have choices to the way you want.

Me: Are there any alternative systems?

Ms. Hsu: A lot of educated parents they form the group they learn by themself.

Me: Oh, like homeschooling in the US. They do that up to twelfth grade?

Ms. Hsu: Mostly for only preschool. Some for elementary school time too.

Me: So the parents teach?

Ms. Hsu: Yes, but they don’t have education background, they use their experience to teach the kids.

Me: I wouldn’t want to teach my own kids.

Ms. Hsu: The knowledge part I don’t have questions about that. But how you manage the class? That’s my question? I have seen the group running their classes.

Me: How were the classes?

Ms. Hsu: The kids are too free I would say. And they don’t care about the kids.

Me: What do you mean they don’t care about the kids?

Ms. Hsu: They rarely centralize them. The kids are highly self confident, on the other hand they don’t care about other people.

Me: I’ve met a few homeschooled kids in the US growing up and they were always a little different from everybody else. Some had problems socializing with others their age.

Ms. Hsu: It’s kind of the way… I don’t like it but I don’t know we grew up, I grew up um by very conservative system and I turn out fine.

Me: So what are you doing differently for your kids?

Ms. Hsu: We try to take out the scores and you see you you try your best to do the best with your regular school. After that we give you more opportunities to do whatever you want. Like Chris, my son, he has basketball and robot, um robotics group. My daughter has the painting and the violin.

Me: I know it’s stressful. But I think you and your husband are doing a wonderful job with those two. Chris is so smart, hardworking, and polite. And Ruby she seems so focused on everything she does.

Ms. Hsu: Still it’s not easy and we’re still learning.

Me: Well, you must be doing something right. I’m going to be on my way! I’ll see you next week.

Ms. Hsu: Thank you. See you next time.

Conversation 4 [3/28/2018]:

Me: Hi, Ms. Hsu, Chris showed me the magnet collection on the fridge during class. Said they were from countries you visited on business trips?

Ms. Hsu: I have travel to a lot of countries in the last ten years. For the.. For business.

Me: Where are your customers?

Ms. Hsu: Spread all over the world. Every year I need to visit them once a year at least one time.

Me: So where all have you been?

Ms. Hsu: I’ve been to ah Netherland, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hungary, um the USA, Brazil, Dubai, uh Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China. So many countries!

Me: Any interesting story you’d like to share?

Ms. Hsu: I’m the first time I travel to Europe and I took the train. Local train. In Italy.

Me: What happened?

Ms. Hsu: We took my colleague and we bought uh a five days ticket and we were supposed to punch the ticket before we hop on the train but we were in a hurry.

Me: So you had a ticket but it wasn’t punched?

Ms. Hsu: We forgot. We hop on the train and the train started. Then the officer came to us to check our ticket and say uh you know you didn’t punch your card.

Me: Did he punch it for you?

Ms. Hsu: No, he say he gonna write a ticket.

Me: Like a fine?

Ms. Hsu: Yes, we pretend we don’t understand. We foreigners, obviously.

Me: Did he let it go? Like give you a warning?

Ms. Hsu: In the end we still get a ticket like 60 euro a person.

Me: All over a ticket you already bought! Unbelievable.

Ms. Hsu: After officer walk away and the person nearby us use clear english explain to us and show us the ticket and tell us to stamp the day on it before we hop on the train.

Me: I’m sure they fine a lot of visitors that way!

Ms. Hsu: The thing is we just bought the ticket on that day and it already has the stamp from the ticket booth. We think that is very stupid.

Me: I hope you never made that mistake again!

Ms. Hsu: Every time when I visit Italy I will tell myself, don’t forget to stamp your ticket.

Me: Now I know what to do if I ever buy a train ticket in Italy.

Ms. Hsu: Don’t make my mistake.

Me: I won’t. So you don’t go on nearly as many business trips with your new job. Are there any countries you want to go back to? Maybe take the family to visit one day?

Ms. Hsu: I think if I want to have nice food I go to Italy or Spain.

Me: I think I would choose Italy. I love Italian food.

Ms. Hsu: If I want to have relax and take a trail I go to Switzerland again.

Me: You need to wait for the kids to get bigger. I’ve taken mine abroad. Didn’t get to relax much!

Ms. Hsu: If I want to visit my friends I will go to Germany.

Me: You made friends in Germany?

Ms. Hsu: I have a lot of friends like old classmates or people I work with before.

Me: Is there anywhere you don’t want to go back to?

Ms. Hsu: I don’t want to go back um Brazil. I will say Brazil is a nice place but its very long flight.

Me: How long is it?

Ms. Hsu: I fly from Taiwan to Japan. Japan to New York. No, Japan to New York, yes. New York to Sao Paulo. At New York I already don’t want to get on the flight. I was too tired.

Me: It can be exhausting. I can’t even fall asleep on planes. Every time I go back to American I’m basically awake for 24 hours.

Ms. Hsu: And on the way back finally arrive in Japan but the flight uh gets some problems so I detour there for one night.

Me: Delays are the worst. Would you take your family to visit the US? Maybe your old university?

Ms. Hsu: Probably. The most comfortable and easy trips are to the US. I studied in the US for two years. I know the restaurants I feel like I go home, you know?

Me: I know the feeling. I pretty much organize a list of all the restaurants I want to go to every time our family travels to my folks’ house. They also ask what meals we want them to prepare for when we are there, too! Will you miss all this travel since you’re not out as much with your new job?

Ms. Hsu: I think I am satisfied and I have enough traveling and I switch my job and now I don’t travel that much.

Me: I think besides seeing relatives I won’t be doing much travel either in the near future.

Ms. Hsu: It’s expensive! My company pay for all those trips so it’s ok.

Me: My uncle in New Zealand does a thing called house swap. It’s a website and you make your house available for others and travel to each other’s country and swap houses.

Ms. Hsu: That can save money.

Ms. Hsu: Yeah, so they don’t pay for hotels or car rentals. They borrow from whoever they are swapping with. When the kids move out maybe you can join.

Ms. Hsu: People want to come to Caotun?

Me: Well, my uncle is in New Zealand but he’s in the middle of nowhere in New Zealand. Like two to three hours away from anything. He gets a lot of inquiries. And here is nearby Sun Moon Lake and Taichung. So maybe some travelers would be interested.

Ms. Hsu: That can be fun. Trading houses. I need to check Ruby’s communication book and do some quick housework before the bedtime. I will see you next week.

Me: Goodbye, see you next week.

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