UW Student Teaches English During Internship Abroad

My name is Zack Borzick; I’m a senior at UW-Madison majoring in English with emphasis on Linguistics and Communication and I’m also earning a certificate in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language). I have always wanted to teach, and pursued it throughout college by teaching volunteer classes and tutoring with GUTS, the Greater University Tutoring Service. This summer I had the unique opportunity to teach abroad for a paid internship in Xi’an, China.

My internship was with Tophillus, a company founded by two Chinese-Americans with the goal of facilitating cultural exchanges between China and America. The internship spanned seven weeks, and my main focus was teaching English to Chinese students. In China, primary and secondary schools teach for six week at a time, followed by a break for two weeks. The education system in China focuses almost exclusively on rote memorization of grammatical forms. I arrived at the tail end of the two week break, and students really wanted to practice English with me as an actual native speaker of the language.

While I was abroad, it took me a while to get used to the fact that I was a foreigner. Kids would come up to me just because they wanted to hear my accent. They would spout off all kinds of English, sometimes even English gibberish, in an effort to practice English with a “露白,” which means foreigner. Getting to know and practice English with the students was such an amazing part of my experience. The students over there were wonderful and always ready to learn. Whether it was the product manager of a graphics design company who took me to Shanghai for a fashion show or a soon to be 6th grader hoping to score better on her next quiz, the students I worked with were both enthusiastic and unendingly curious about learning English.

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