I thought I had much better photographs of this wonderful corner of one of Beijing’s parks, where students and other enthusiasts for English would gather every Sunday to practice their skills on each other, and especially on anyone actually from the English-speaking world.
Whenever I felt depressed by and about China, I would go to the English corner, and it never failed to recharge my batteries of enthusiasm for China. The one photo I’ve found certainly illustrates the busy-ness of the English corner.
And if I find the other photos in my collection, with the banners proclaiming English Corner, I’ll post them here.
As a native speaker, one would in the mid-1980s be bombarded with questions about life as an Englishman – some of them very halting, some breathtakingly fluent.
We never talked about heavy politics, but in those rather naive days of dui wai kaifang – opening up, perhaps that didn’t matter so much.