Dear Wang Dan,


Thanks for writing me. I do not use the QQ mail service very often, so when I checked out your mail, it was already a few weeks after you sent it. Also, my work duties have prevented me from giving you a quick reply. Please write to in the future. I use this service almost on a daily basis.

pen and paper 03 

When I learned last year that you had switched from biology to English, I was impressed by your determination to follow your own choice. Making our own decisions is a way to show we are living our own lives. Some college students cannot or would not change even though what they are studying is not their interest.


However, to learn a subject well takes things beyond interest. Your interest may have guided you in the beginning but as with any other field, the English language does have something hard to crack. That hard stuff is where we should devote our time and effort. When you have cracked the nut, you will realise in time that your choice was right, and your interest in the language will be enhanced by your progress and success. Please be ready to put your work in.


Honestly, I did not receive proper university education. I studied in a two-year college before I became a teacher. Since I left college, I have constantly been doing what I could have learned on a four-year programme. Learning on the job has benefited me a great deal.


You are lucky to have the opportunity to do the language properlyfour years of undergraduate studies, which could be followed by a postgraduate programme if you opt to. The four years should equip you with the knowledge, skills, and proficiency you would need for your job. I have the following ideas to share with you on learning on campus. I hope you find them of some help.




Listening, speaking, reading and writing are the four skills a good language user should master. We communicate with them. Your curriculum has all the courses it takes to get you trained in the four skills. Take your skills lessons seriously.


My experience tells me that many college students find they cannot get what they want from their courses. You may have completed all the lessons in Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing but you may find you are not able to use the language as well as you want even after the exams are passed and certificates awarded.




Throughout the four years, never give up training yourself in the four skills. The four skills are highlighted on the curriculum in the first two years. The second two years is usually spent in expanding your knowledge of the English language and language itself, with courses such as Linguistics and English Literature. Of course to graduate from university you will have to pass all the relevant tests.


In the latter part of the four years, some students majoring in the language tend to relax their efforts to practise the language by listening, speaking, reading and writing. They aim to get a pass and just sleep with it. They would end up with poor practical language skills.


Reading plays a very important role in accumulating knowledge. The library is full of books you could choose from. Besides doing the reading programme the school offers, it would be a good idea to read throughout the four yearsnewspapers, easier readers and then original works of the language. Read those you can understand and those you are interested in. One day, you may realise that the reading which you did outside the classroom and beyond the curriculum better equips you for the job you do.




The Chinese education system is not perfect from primary school through university. As I mentioned earlier, one may pass the tests and be certified but the real stuff has not been learned. No wonder you have found that you cannot do what you like.


If you budget your time well, you will have no trouble passing the tests you should. Meanwhile, take time over the things you like as long as they help you to better your ability to use the language and to expand your horizons. I took my basics seriously in my two years of collegepronunciation, listening, reading and writing. At the end of the day, people would judge you on the basis of your fundamental language proficiencyyour ability to use the language properly. It is not unusual to find that a guy who has all kinds of certificates under his belt cannot talk in everyday English or write properly. So it is right to do what you think is right where the system fails.




You may have discovered the power of the Internet. Digital technology has revolutionised the way humans work and live. Spare some time to learn to use the technology. Things that were impossible in my student days are realities on the computer. I used to tune in to the BBC World Service broadcasts on my shortwave radio. I never thought I would have access to the broadcasts now available on the web. On the Internet, info in English is everywherenews, blogs, radio and TV and whatever you like. Used properly, the Internet will make your learning more colourful and efficient. It is absolutely certain that you will have to use the computer a lot when you start your career later on.


As far as I remember, your willpower is extraordinarily strong compared with your stature. Back here in the classroom, you looked so little with your taller classmates around you. At first sight, you might appear to a beholder mentally weak because you are not tall and strong physically. You have proved many people wrong and you will prove more wrong in the future. Be proud of yourself and do not be ashamed of your background. We live in a more liberal age. Just go all out to pursue your dream.


If there happen to be your former high school classmates where you are, pass on my greetings to them. Shengliver still remembers them. I wish them well the way I do you.


Stay warm and best wishes,


Yours truly,



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. spectator
    May 25, 2011 @ 21:25:51

    hi, i can’t find the chatroom you usually talk in.which room are you in now?


  2. shengliver
    May 26, 2011 @ 19:31:53

    Nice to have you back, Spectator. It has been ages since we met. How has everything been going, sir? Are you still working with your teens in the classroom? Your appearance today has called up so many memories of our online friendship.

    The name of China English has been switched to English Teachers’ Club. But I am active around 7 pm daily simultaneously in a couple of communities. I hope that you join me there. Best wishes to you and your family, sir.


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