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Liberal Arts Major Improves English Proficiency in China

by Connie K. Ho | December 19th, 2011

Xie Xie (Thank you). Ni Hao (Hello). These are some of the words that Hanford Lin utilized while teaching English in China. Lin is an English major with a cause and a passion to help others learn new skills.

Lin taught English in China in the summer of 2009 and again in 2010. During his first year, he taught in DongYing, in the Shan Dong province; the following summer, he taught in Jin Hua, in the Zhe Jiang province. Both experiences of teaching aroad proved to be enlightening.

Lin first decided to go to China due to what can only be described as “a yearning” to experience the country and see, for himself, what was in the beyond of Asia.

“There was a calling and a great wonder as to what China was. Everything I knew about it was from what I have read, seen, and heard from what my parents have told me, like an ancestral home from a previous life,” said Lin.

Lin taught the students a variety of skills, including English oral proficiency, vocabulary, and method. To him, the days were full of lessons but the time went by quickly.

“Teaching was arduous and often times frustrating, but it was fun and enriching,” commented Lin. “Teaching the students in a hundred degree weather with high humidity in a room with no AC is a humbling experience–patience and discipline, two traits that must be learned in order to survive in China.”

In interacting with the Chinese students, Lin was able to see the differences between the cultures of the U.S. and China. Once, when he was walking around the village, he saw a large group practicing aerobics outdoors. Hundreds of participants waved their hands in the air and moved their limbs. They were engaged in a physical activity, all the while learning how to dance. Living in China for a short amount of time allowed him to see what the locals did on a daily basis.

“Being able to take in the environment, to smell the eternal muddy river in JinHua or the pollution in Beijing that was so foul that it grayed the sky–it was surreal,” Lin described.

Lin’s international service experience impacted him in such a way that he recommends that others participate in volunteer projects as well.

“In my opinion, volunteering is vital to the human mind! Seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling, to fully be in a space so entirely different, yet subtly similar, is essential to the positive growth of an individual, and subsequently the society.”

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