Once again, I find myself looking back on a year past, remembering what I’ve done and evaluating the changes in my life. A year really is an arbitrary measurement, but it’s a familiar one and one that’s easy to use as a metric.

Last New Year’s

I don’t think I really did any sort of systematic goal setting during the last new year. At the time, I was having too much fun hanging out with my girlfriend of the time, working on the school and reading the sci-fi books Poagao had lent me.

I do remember what my goals were, though. I wanted to really turn the school into something great– not just a competitive business, but something my students would someday look back upon and consider to have changed their lives for the better.

I wasn’t too terribly focused on learning Chinese at that point. I was already well past the level required for daily living, and I’d finished my two children’s books that I’d assigned myself on my 28th birthday. My social life was also great, especially during the summer while Eric was in town.

I think fitness was something of a minor goal, but I can’t remember too well.

Progress with the school

The one thing I put the most of my heart into, the school, has done relatively well. It’s still not really making much money, but I’m really, really happy with the quality of the education. My highest level class, which I took from absolute beginners 2 years ago, has read over a dozen level two graded readers (OUP, Penguin and Cambridge), and had few problems understanding a level 3 reader, Sleepy Hollow, entirely from listening to its accompanying CD. Not bad for just 4 class hours a week for two years.

The parents seem to be pleased, too. I still have 80% of the students from my very first class that I opened just over two years ago. One who had left for a year even came back this summer!

It’s a bit difficult to calculate school growth, though. Some of the growth in the size of the school was bought and probably at a higher price than we should have paid when we bought out Ding’s. With the school came a lot of students, many who left when we moved in, and a couple of part time teachers, one of whom is still with us.

Just looking at the total number of students in our evening classes, our growth is an astounding +181% from December 2007 to December 2008. A fairer comparison would be to look at just the number of students in my own evening classes, and that comes up to a less impressive +84% over the past year. The afternoon classes, which I taught for the last two years, but which a new teacher has taken over for this year are up about 40%. Student numbers for our advanced classes have been pretty flat, but we’ve revised our definition of “advanced” sharply upwards.

Being such a small school, growth is pretty easy to come by. The coming year will be the real test. If we can grow by anything like the same rate this coming year, then it will be clear we’re offering something people really want.

Other stuff

I made limited progress in terms of Chinese learning or getting in better shape.

I’m working my way through a children’s book, which seems devoted to making sure Taiwanese children believe in precursor civilizations, the Loch Ness Monster, the bermuda triangle and the existence of great pyramids and a sphinx on Mars. I’m only reading a few pages a week, though.

I’ve been running once or twice a week, but I push myself hard occasionally. My resting pulse is now down from about 67 to 55, and my blood pressure is now on the low end of normal, but I have pretty much the same weight as before.


For the time being, I feel content to continue down my current path. I do want to see if I can start using my Japanese a bit more than I have been, though. Watching Heroes, all the parts with Hiro Nakamura and his adventures have been making me think about looking for a conversation partner some podcasts and a JLPT study guide.

Other New Year Posts:
Thoughts on 2008(yuehan.org)