Ch 39: English Tutoring

Yin Chang was loath to go back on his original promise to Shao Junling.
So after clarifying with teacher Lin about the process for transitioning from boarding to day school, he went straight to Shao Junling's dorm to pack up his things and return home with them.

Back at home, Yin Chang asked Fiona to help Shao Junling arrange his personal belongings one by one.

Because Shao Junling lived in the study, naturally the room became his place for daily reading and studying.

After dinner, Yin Chang saw Shao Junling walking in and out of the living room, master bedroom, and study, as if he owned the place.
The little guy was moving the model toys that were originally in the living room to the study.
Thinking that from now on, he would see Shao Junling day in and day out, Yin Chang felt it was surreal.

“You keep this.” Yin Chang found the transcript given to him by teacher Lin and returned it to Shao Junling.
When he entered the study, he clarified with him, “There's no door between your room and my room.
Is that okay?”

Shao Junling glanced at him without looking away.
He made a sound of agreement.
He had already set up a row of model parts on his desk, ready to assemble.

Seeing him agree so readily, Yin Chang didn't feel comfortable pushing the issue further.

Thinking of teacher Lin’s warning, Yin Chang cleared his throat, “Are all your final exam papers here?”

Shao Junling looked up, puzzled.

Yin Chang put on a serious look, like a parent checking their child's homework, and said earnestly, “Take out your English paper and let me have a look.”

Shao Junling hesitated.
He then reluctantly took out a bundle of crumpled pages from his bag.
He flipped through them at an agonizing pace, before finally locating the paper with a bright red “C-” marked on it.
He handed it to Yin Chang.

Yin Chang took it and glanced at it, his brow furrowing.

On the top right corner of the paper, there was a table for individual scores.
Shao Junling got an “A” in “Vocabulary” and “Text Transcription”, but an “F” (Fail) in both “Oral” and “Listening”.

In other words, Shao Junling barely managed to pull up his final grade up to a C- with the scores from vocabulary and text transcription.

Yin Chang remembered that when he was a child, he learned English by listening and speaking first, and then learned vocabulary, phrases, and composition.
How did Shao Junling completely reverse it?

He carefully took a second look and found Shao Junling’s English scribbles barely decipherable, with the spaces all in the wrong places.
He didn’t understand how the teacher had managed to grade the paper.

Yin Chang glanced over and saw that the little guy looked like he was caught by the scruff of his neck.
His neck was stiff and his eyes nervously darted around.

Yin Chang looked back at the exam paper and was struck with an absurd suspicion.
Could it be that Shao Junling merely memorized the sequence of the letters to transcribe the required text?

He directed a puzzled gaze at Shao Junling and asked in English, “Do you know what these mean?”

Afraid that Shao Junling wouldn't understand, Yin Chang deliberately slowed down his speech.

Sure enough, Shao Junling stood there dumbfounded, not understanding what was said at all.

Yin Chang couldn't believe it and deliberately pointed to the beginning of one of the sentences, “Pick out the red kite,” which Shao Junling had written as “Pickou tther,” and asked him, “Can you read this?”

Shao Junling opened his mouth.
He mumbled for a while, but couldn't even pronounce a single “P”.

Yin Chang: “…………”

Confirming his suspicion, Yin Chang was amazed.

Teacher Lin said Shao Junling had a good memory, but it couldn't be to this extreme, right!?

Everyone knew that it was much easier to remember a sentence with meaning over a meaningless sequence of symbols.
What kind of brain did this kid have?

“You…” Yin Chang rubbed his forehead with a headache and made up his mind, “I have to find you a tutor.”

In this situation, Yin Chang couldn't have an English conversation practice with Shao Junling at all.
Probably even teacher Lin hadn’t imagined that Shao Junling managed to get a “C-” without any knowledge of English.

That night, Yin Chang laid in bed and sent the report card from earlier to Yao Manhuai.

Yao Manhuai: “Shao Junling's?”

Yin Chang: “Yeah, his final grades for the semester.”

Although Yin Chang was surprised by Shao Junling's progress, he was still proud of his younger brother's achievements.

Yao Manhuai also said, “Impressive.”

Yin Chang got to the main point: “He still needs to improve his English.
His homeroom teacher asked me to find a way for him to catch up on English during winter break.
Do you still have the contact infor for the training institute you found for Shao Junling before?”

Yao Manhuai: “Yes, but it seems that tutor only focuses on preschool education.”

Yin Chang: “Well, preschool level should be enough.”

Yin Chang estimated that Shao Junling probably didn't even recognize all of the alphabet – he really didn't know how he had managed to pass all his exams at De International.

Besides, a preschool English teacher definitely had beyond preschool level expertise, and this teacher had interacted with Shao Junling before, so understood his situation.
Yin Chang believed she could tailor a reasonable teaching plan for Shao Junling.

Yao Manhuai: “Okay, I'll contact them.”

Yin Chang paused for a moment, “By the way, Shao Junling will be a day student next semester.
I want to find a dedicated driver to drive him to and from school.”

Yao Manhuai: “He's going to be a day student?”

Yin Chang: “Yeah, I promised him that once he wasn’t behind academically, I'd allow him to be a day student.” Of course his English was still a problem…

Yao Manhuai: “Did he request this himself?”

Yao Manhuai: “He seems quite attached to you.”

Yin Chang paused when he saw this message.
When he looked up, he saw Shao Junling's figure bending over his desk, assembling a model.

The study was lit with warm light, and the teenager's profile was tinged with a golden yellow hue…
The sensation was novel and heartwarming.

…Maybe because he's still young.
He's so smart, he'll be eager to spread his wings and fly off when he grows older.

Yao Manhuai sent another message: “I'll have Xiaolu arrange the driver matter for you.
And I'll contact the training institute tomorrow.”

Yin Chang: “There's no need to rush, he just finished his exams.
Let him rest for a couple of days.”

Yao Manhuai: “Okay.
By the way, I have something important to tell you.”

Perhaps text was too slow.
Yao Manhuai directly initiated a video call: “Svenky contacted us.
They’ll be launching a new series of BG watches during the Spring Festival.
They want to invite you to Switzerland to take endorsement photos.”

Yin Chang was stunned for a moment: “Can't we take the photos in China?”

As the two rooms had no separating walls, Shao Junling, who overheard, whipped his head around.

Yin Chang thought he was bothering him, so he got out of bed, and headed to the living room with his phone. 

Yao Manhuai smiled, “It's not just about taking photos.
I heard that Luca wants to take you to visit the Svenky headquarters and the watch making studio, so that you can experience the entire process.
You can also have some fun in Switzerland if you have time, and also “conveniently” take some endorsement photos.”

Yin Chang asked, “How many days?”

Yao Manhuai replied, “One week.
You can come back before the Spring Festival.
To be honest, if it were any other celebrity receiving this invitation, I would directly suggest arranging for them to shoot in China.
Because celebrities with the same popularity as you won't have so much time available.
Moreover, it's the end of the year now, with many invitations from various events, including the Weibo Night and the Youku Annual Gala, both of which have invited you, which conflicts with Luca's invitation for you to go to Switzerland.”

Yin Chang: “What’s Weibo Night and Youku Annual Gala?”

Yao Manhuai explained, “They’re large-scale award ceremonies and social gatherings, usually only inviting popular celebrities in the industry, and selecting the most influential figures of the year for awards.
Being invited is also a proof of strength.
I heard that Youku also plans to award you the New Idol of the Year.”

As soon as Yin Chang heard this, he frowned.
“Should I be attending?”

Yao Manhuai said, “You have to make the decision yourself.
If you want to win the award, I won't object, after all, your popularity is real.
Youku won't give you this award for no reason, but you may face more controversies…”

As soon as Yao Manhuai said this, Yin Chang understood.

Recalling the criticisms he faced online during the broadcast of “Idol Face-to-Face,” Yin Chang felt uncomfortable all over.

Yin Dongnian had just passed away in the middle of the year.
Him attending a grand event and receiving such an award at the end of the year would definitely be inappropriate.

“Forget it,” Yin Chang shook his head.
“I won't attend.”

Moreover, he didn't like those social occasions where he had to put on a “professional smile” and deal with lots of people.
He’d rather go to Switzerland and be with Luca's sincerity and enthusiasm.

Yao Manhuai wasn’t sure what she preferred.
She just said, “Sure.
Awards can wait.
What's meant to be yours will be yours sooner or later…
So should I accept Svenky's invitation on your behalf?”

Yin Chang asked, “Am I going alone?”

Yao Manhuai said, “They said you can bring one or two assistants as you like, and they’ll provide them with the same treatment.
If you don't have any other requirements, just let Xiaolu accompany you.”

Yin Chang replied, “Okay.”

After hanging up the phone, Yin Chang turned around and saw that Shao Junling had followed him out at some point and was standing behind him.

“You…” Yin Chang examined his expression, “What’s the matter?”

Shao Junling looked at him intently, and asked fluidly, “Are you leaving again?”

Yin Chang was stunned.
“Huh?” When did this kid become so articulate? And what does he mean by “again”?

Yin Chang explained, “I have to go abroad for a business trip.” Shao Junling may be on vacation, but that didn’t mean he also was.

Shao Junling watched him blankly for a while, then turned and went back to his room.

Although he didn’t ask this, Yin Chang wondered how long the little guy had been eavesdropping.

That night, Yin Chang had the rare dream about Yin Dong.

In the dream, Yin Dong was wearing a black coat, with a black suitcase beside him.
They were at the villa in Pasadena.
Yin Dong put on his shoes at the door, then stood to grab the wool felt hat on the wall.

Yin Chang was very young.
He looked up at his father: “Are you leaving again?”

Yin Dong turned around.
His slightly younger face filled with reluctance: “Yes, son, daddy has to go to work.”

“When will you come back then?” His voice had a hint of tears.

Yin Dong squatted down and ruffled his head, with a trace of sadness in his tone: “Be a good boy, stay at home with Fiona and wait for daddy to come back and bring you gifts, okay?”

Yin Chang felt aggrieved, but didn't know how to make his father stay.

Yin Dong sighed when he saw his silent son.
He stood and dragged his suitcase away.

The next instant, Yin Chang envisioned countless breaking news reporting plane crashes and the scene of his father’s death…

He was scared.
He chased after him, crying, overflowing with words he wanted to say to Yin Dong.

Dad, don't leave! 

Planes can crash! 

Dad, don't abandon me…

But in the dream, his voice choked up.
No matter how hysterical he was, he was unable to make a sound.

He could only watch helplessly as Yin Dong walked further and further away, until he disappeared from view.

Yin Chang suddenly woke up, gasping for air with his mouth wide open, like a dying fish.

“Brother…” someone called him softly by his bedside.

It was Shao Junling.
He was lying on his stomach, looking at him nervously.

“Mm?” Yin Chang wiped his teary eyes and feigned calmness, “Why are you up?”

For some reason, Yin Chang felt particularly embarrassed that Shao Junling had caught him crying from a nightmare.
Not too long ago, he had also witnessed Shao Junling whimpering in his sleep from a nightmare.
But after all, he was the older one and didn't want to be seen as vulnerable by a younger child.

Yin Chang calmed down and realized that Shao Junling was only wearing a thin tank, and standing barefoot on the carpet.

quickly go back to sleep,” Yin Chang frowned, “You’re gonna catch a cold.”

Shao Junling stared at him for another two seconds.
When Yin Chang repeated his warning, he slowly retreated, looking back thrice before returning to the study.

Yin Chang lay back down weakly, recalling everything that had happened in the dream.
He still felt the suffocating sensation of helplessness.

How could he have had such a dream?

Clearly, those two events hadn’t happened in sequence.

Yin Chang closed his eyes and the sentence that Shao Junling asked him before going to bed appeared again in his mind.

The same sentence, but with a different tone.

Could it be that Shao Junling's words triggered his memories of the past?

Yin Chang couldn't help but think of what Yao Manhuai said in WeChat: “He seems to be quite attached to you.”

Similar words were said by Lu Lingjuan when he first left Shao Junling to return to Pasadena.

But that child…
usually looked carefree.
Not only did he seldom speak, but he also rarely showed emotion.
Yin Chang couldn't figure out what he was thinking and couldn't tell if he felt dependence towards himself.

Yin Chang thought hazily and fell asleep again.

The next day, he received a call from Yao Manhuai.

“I contacted the training group that previously taught Shao Junling, but the teacher who taught him is busy with classes recently and won't have time to tutor Shao Junling before the Lunar New Year.
Should I help you find another one? However, it's already close to the Lunar New Year, and good teachers probably won't have time.”

De International’s winter vacation was only forty days in total, excluding the ten days before the holiday, plus the Spring Festival holiday.
There weren’t many days remaining for Shao Junling to receive tutoring before the start of the semester.
But since he would be a day student in the future, he could also receive off-campus tutoring after the semester started…
Thinking of this, Yin Chang realized he need not rush.

“Let's talk about it after the Spring Festival then.”

While chatting with Yao Manhuai, Yin Chang saw Shao Junling coming out of the room, looking up at him expectantly.

That look reminded Yin Chang of how Shao Junling had sat on the bed waiting for him when he was drunk that one night.

“Auntie Yao…” Yin Chang's mind was ablaze.
He turned around and asked in a low voice over the phone, “Can I bring Shao Junling with me to Switzerland?”

Yao Manhuai was clearly hesitant

Yin Chang: “As for the expenses of him traveling with me, I can cover it.”

“Well…” Yao Manhuai thought for a moment and hesitated, “It's not impossible.
Originally, they invited you to go there as a friendly gesture, and the invitation letter also said that you can bring one or two people.
But wouldn’t it be troublesome for you to bring a child? Also, he’s never been abroad before, can he adapt?”

Yin Chang hadn't considered this: “Uh, I haven't asked him yet.
Also I don't know if he’d wanna go…”

Before the exam, Xuezi asked Shao Junling, “Which subject are you most worried about?”

Shao Junling replied, “English.”

Xuezi couldn't understand, “English? Is it harder than math?”

Shao Junling: “Much harder!”

He tensely wrote meaningless symbols over and over again.

After the exam, he finally got all the points he could get and breathed a sigh of relief.

The subject he reviewed the longest had the worst score.

And his brother figured out his secret.

At long last winter break has arrived, but he still has to continue learning ABC.

Shao Junling: Despair.jpg

 Vignette 2

Shao Junling: Yes! I can finally see my brother every day!

Yin Chang: I'm going to Switzerland for a week.

Yin Chang: I'll take you with me, I'll take you with me.

Shao Junling: !!! (☆_☆)

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