Baylor in China offers language immersion

By Madison Ferril

For those brave enough to spend four weeks without the English language, Baylor in China has proven to be a rewarding program.

Directed by Dr. Xin Wang, assistant professor of Chinese and director of Asian Studies, the program is open to students who have taken their first year of Chinese.

Students take two classes and are not allowed to speak English during their time in the country.

Participants will spend most of their time in Beijing, but travel to other places as well, such as the ancient capital city of Xi’an.

Wang said he started the program five years ago after teaching and doing research in China. About 50 students have participated since it started.

“I realized that many other universities had established language programs and we didn’t have one organized,” he said. “And while I was teaching here, students had been telling me that they really wanted to go see the country and learn about the culture.”

Wang said Chinese is a difficult language to master without being placed in the cultural and social setting of China. The program allows students to learn about different aspects of the culture.

Wang said he believes that knowing the language helps career-wise.

Alumni of the program have used the language in their career or pursued further study in areas related to China.

One student works at Hewlett-Packard Co. in Beijing, while another teaches at a university in the same city. One student works at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. ,as a research associate for the China section.

Three students are currently enrolled in graduate programs related to East Asian studies.

“Both government and business institutions are looking for people with Chinese background, language proficiency and study abroad experience,” Wang said.

Houston sophomore Christy Pyle is one of 14 students going on the trip this year.

“It will be overwhelming to not be able to speak English,” Pyle said. “I’m trying to speak as much Chinese as I can to prepare.”

Pyle said she has been planning to study abroad since she started college and she wanted to participate in Baylor in China after the fall semester.

“I felt like I would learn more and get a better feel for China with this program,” she said.

San Jose, Calif., junior Cassie Yip said she hopes the trip will allow her to better grasp the language.

“I wanted to immerse myself in the culture because that’s a better way to learn, at least if you want to be fluent,” Yip said.

Yip said she thinks the program will open up future career prospects.

“I am still trying to figure out what field to go into,” she said. “I am looking at teaching English, and one of those options is teaching in Hong Kong. Even if I don’t do that, it’s good to have another language.”

Both students said they are concerned about traveling to China.

“It’s going to be an experience in itself being in a different country without my family,” Pyle said. “This is the farthest I’ve been away from them.”

However, Yip said she is ready for the experience.

“I think it opens the door to a different culture,” Yip said. “They see the world a completely different way. It’s just a window into a completely different perspective.”