|Learning English Helps Student Broaden Horizons, Build Global Friendships|
17 December 2012
Feng Ting-Yu, known to friends as “Fish,” made the long journey from Taiwan to Texas in order to enroll in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at UT. Here, Fish explains what the opportunity to further develop his skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening in English means for him both personally and professionally.
What brought you to Austin? What do you enjoy most about the city?
I came to the U.S. from Taiwan 14 months ago. I love the fresh air in Austin. I enjoy attending events at the Student Activity Center. It is also a great place just to have lunch and do my ESL homework.
Why are you interested in enhancing your English skills? What does this opportunity mean to you personally?
Learning a different language can help me gain knowledge in a different way. Because English is one of the major languages of the world, much of the world’s news, information about new technologies, and online videos are published in English first. Learning English will help me be able to stay more current on things like this that interest me.
Finally, I believe learning a different language can help me think using different logic. For example, my native language is Mandarin. The structure of Mandarin is very different from English, and some words in each language cannot be translated to each other. So, knowing both languages can help me learn more and get a broader understanding of things. Also, coming to the U.S. to learn English helps me learn U.S. culture from other students here. This helps me learn more about how the world works.
Which English class are you taking at UT?
I'm taking the English Language Program, which includes these courses: Reading, Listening and Speaking, Writing, and Grammar.
What about these classes has been most helpful to you?
The UT ESL teachers are very good. They have many ways to teach English. Some teachers will use the newspaper and novels in class to help me learn how to read beyond the words. In Listening and Speaking, we listen to the news on the radio to learn how to improve our skills in listening to spoken English. Also, if I have any problems with studying, I can visit my teachers during office hours or make an appointment to get help.
Which ESL class have you enjoyed the most?
I enjoy the Listening and Speaking class. I think it is the fastest way to learn English. Especially nowadays we have many ways to translate written words, but many people have trouble learning how to listen to and speak English. In class, we each give a presentation and give each other feedback in order to improve our speaking and listening skills.
What do you like about the extra social activities offered in conjunction ESL classes?
Because there are several different ESL classes going on at any point in time, it can be very hard to get everyone together. Social events outside of class help us all meet each other. UT ESL provides many social events for students, including Talk Time, holiday celebrations, and bowling.
I really enjoy getting together with other ESL students and learning about each other’s languages and cultures, as well as having the chance to practice our English together. I’ve learned many things about my new friends during our social events. For example, from interacting with my new friends, I have learned that Korean people like spicy foods, Saudi Arabian people have strong faith in their religion, and Mexican people are good dancers!
You have also taken the step of getting involved in the planning and photography of these events? What do you enjoy most about these activities?
I volunteered to help with social events so that I could get more chances to learn and practice English, which I use a lot in working with others to plan events. I also use English to answer student questions during the events. I enjoy taking pictures at the events because it helps us keep memories about this exciting time in our lives.
What is your career goal?
I wish to be an international salesman. I was a supervisor in my previous jobs and have realized that if I can learn to express my meaning with customer more clearly, I can solve problems more efficiently. I also believe English skills can help me get promoted to higher levels in my career.
What is one thing you have learned about yourself while learning English?
I recently helped a friend in Taiwan purchase some products for his company from a U.S. supplier. I used English to help him negotiate the deal and understand what would be required to comply with U.S. Customs regulations. That experience helped me realize that by learning English, I am not only able to pursue my own dreams, I am able to help others achieve theirs as well. It is a great feeling.
Story by Angie Pastorek