This is the text of the speech delivered at the Teacher’s Appreciation Day, before the school assembly of teachers and students.
I normally deliver my speech in English first. As this speech has to do with my journey of learning Chinese, I shall break with tradition and deliver the Chinese speech first.
Nobody remembers exactly what his teacher has taught, neither Mathematics, nor English, nor Chinese, but everybody remembers the impact a teacher has upon him. A teacher can make a student love and embrace a subject, or a teacher can make a student hate and fear that subject.
I learnt to fear Chinese when I was in Primary 4. My Chinese teacher would cane us for each word we got wrong for the weekly Chinese Spelling Test. For an anglophile like me, Chinese was tough, resulting in me failing the spelling tests and getting caned each week. I learnt to associate Chinese with pain, lots of it, because of my Primary 4 Chinese teacher.
I learnt to hate Chinese when I was in Primary 6. My Chinese teacher would dress me down and use hurting words, asking me if I was even Chinese, since my Chinese was so weak. Although I decided to study hard and got an A for my Grade 6 Chinese, it was that teacher that made me associate Chinese with discouragement, that I was probably never going to make it in that subject.
My father’s decision to send me to a “Chinese” school, where Chinese was taught as a native subject (and where some other subjects were also taught in Chinese), meant plenty of fear when I entered the school.
As expected, I encountered another teacher who dressed me down and used hurting words, telling me I would never make it in Chinese. It was, however, in that very school that I encountered the most patient Chinese teachers I have ever encountered in my entire life of Chinese studies. Despite my failing Chinese again and again, the two Chen laoshi in my life kept encouraging me to keep on, never to give up. Never a word of scolding came from their mouths, only encouragement.
As so it was, that one day the best Chinese student in my class (he was a Taiwanese-Indonesian) wrote 一鸣惊人 (to shock everyone when he opens his mouth, translated for meaning) wrongly as 一明惊人 on the board. I corrected him, saying that he got the wrong 鸣. The entire class was shocked and laughed – imagine the failure in Chinese correcting the best Chinese student in class! I noted that Chen laoshi had told the story behind this idiom, and it has something to do with a bird, so it cannot be 明. My classmate took out his dictionary, and declared to the class, “俊成 (my Chinese name) has just accomplished an 一鸣惊人！”
I have to thank Chen laoshi for that 一鸣惊人.
Few of us know the lives of teachers. Few of us know how many times teachers have to do lesson prep and grading till late at night, night after night. Few of us know the missed lunches, when the teacher has to attend to a student. Few of us know of the weekends sacrificed to accompany students for performances and competitions. All these teachers do, not because the school demand that they do so, but because it is what teachers do for their students.
There is a saying in Chinese, 一日为师，终生为父 (a day as a teacher, an entire lifetime as a father). Teachers are a lot like dads and mums, especially to students who are away from their dads and mums. To these special dads and mums, I would like to say a Thank You and a Happy Teachers Day.
没有人会清清楚楚的记得所有老师所教授的东西，无论是数学、英文还是中文，但是每个人都会记得老师对他的影响。 一位老师可以让一个学生爱上一门学科，或者也可以让学生心生厌恶，甚至恐惧 。
当我在小学四年级时，我开始对学习中文产生恐惧。我的中文老师会在每周的汉语拼写测验时，每个错字打一次手心做为处罚。 中文对于我这位接受英式教育的学生是非常困难的，导致我每周都因为拼写测试错误太多而遭受处罚。 因为小四中文老师的缘故，使我把中文与痛苦联系在一起 。
我在小学六年级开始更讨厌中文。因为我的中文实在太不理想，我的中文老师会经常用伤人的话来讽刺我，问我是否是华人 。 虽然我决定刻苦去读书并且在6年级时中文拿到A，但是那位老师让我把中文与沮丧联系在一起，让我感觉我永远也学不好中文。
正如预期的那样，我遇到了另一位用言语讽刺我、贬低我的老师 ，她甚至说我永远都学不好中文。 然而，在这所学校，我却遇到了毕生见过最有耐心的两位中文老师。 尽管我一次又一次地失败了，但这两位陈老师一直鼓励我继续加油，永不放弃。 她们从来没有责怪、训斥我，反而一直鼓励我。
就这样，有一天，我班上中文最好的学生（他是台湾印尼混血）把“一鸣惊人”错误的写成“一明惊人”。 我纠正了他，说他的“鸣”写错了。 整个班级都感到震惊，大笑起来 – 想象班里中文最差的学生居然纠正中文最好的学生！ 我联想到陈老师讲述这个成语时所描述的背后故事，这个故事与鸟有关，所以肯定不能是“明”。 我的同学拿出字典来查到底哪个才是正确的，并向班级宣布：“俊成（我的中文名字）这次真的“一鸣惊人”呀！”
我们当中很少有人知道老师的生活。 我们当中很少有人知道教师要做多少份教案和评分，直到深夜。 我们当中很少有人知道老师们常常因为见学生而错过的午餐时间 。也很少有人知道老师们常常牺牲他们的周末，陪同学生参加演出和比赛。 这些老师这样做不是因为学校的要求，而全都是为了学生。
中国有句古话叫做：一日为师，终生为父 。 老师们的角色很像爸爸妈妈，特别是对于那些远离父母的学生。 对于这些特别的“爸爸妈妈”，我想对你们说：“谢谢，祝你们教师节快乐！”
Michael Chan 曾俊成
Hillside World Academy