Back when I lived in Guīshān, I used to go to McDonald’s fairly often. Barring convenience stores, it was the only place close enough and quick enough that I could get dinner between classes. Thankfully, in Táibĕi, there are many many more options. Right after moving back here, I made it a point to avoid the place. I usually go to Subway now, but there are also quite a few local fast food places within a two minute walk. When I finally did go back to McDonald’s, I was poorly prepared for the scene that awaited me:

A mother and her child of about 6
Mother: Tiguh怎麼拼? (how do you spell “Tiger”?)
Child: T-I-G-E-R.
Mother: Bookuh怎麼拼?
Child: B-O-O-K嗎?
Mother: Raid怎麼拼?
Child: R-E-D嗎?
Mother: Elephant怎麼拼?
Child: E-L-O-P-H…忘記了. (I forgot)

This produced a tongue lashing, followed by some intense drilling. After a few minutes, the kid started asking her about the stuff in his salad and she barked at him “not to speak in Chinese”. Then the spelling continued. This led me to a few conclusions:

  1. No wonder Taiwanese kids are so much better at spelling than you’d expect from their other English skills.
  2. No wonder it’s so much harder to fix the pronunciation of kids whose parents are “into English”.
  3. Being a kid can suck.