Chinese American girl’s English learning program expands global reach

Xinhua Published: 2020-05-18 11:14:55

In the summer of 2016, six-year-old Joy He Zhiya and her elder brother left their home in New York for the mountain area of Longlin County in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, to experience a different life.

Photo shows English books. [Photo: VCG]

Photo shows English books. [Photo: VCG]

They lived at a host family, ate and worked together with the family members. They found that many local children wanted to learn English in order to be able to communicate with them, but there was no English teacher.

The pair returned to Mowo Village in Longlin County during the summer vacation the next year, and gave their first, as well as the first English class at Mowo Hope Primary School.

To sustain their voluntary English teaching after returning to the United States, Joy started her English class online. In four years, her students have increased from several in Mowo Village to hundreds in Guangxi, and further to tens of thousands of children from 12 countries including China, Japan, Singapore, Germany and Mexico.

Her teaching videos have been played more than 10 million times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in school classes being suspended. Joy, along with her brother, launched “JoyLand School” online English study program, and established a JoyLand Foundation. In two months, the foundation received donations totalling 26,000 U.S. dollars.

From her four-year online teaching experience, Joy has noticed some major challenges that Chinese children have in learning English, including difficulties in pronunciation and listening comprehension, accurate expression in simple words, and first language interference.

She took these problems to her English teacher. With help, Joy borrowed heaps of English learning books from the library, made various teaching aids, and initiated a teaching method of her own.

Joy then turned to her mother, a linguistics professor at the State University of New York, as well as the latter’s colleagues and friends, for a scientific and systematic teaching plan. A second language acquisition professor worked out a curriculum while a linguist and an expert on children’s emotional cognition designed a “10-minute effective shadowing.”

“JoyLand School” now has three courses. They are daily shadowing, including everyday conversation; hobbies English, including learning English through drawing and DIY; and scene English, including visits to schools, survival in the wild and making cookies. The courses have covered 500 core words, 800 local expressions and more than 300 scene dialogues.

The 10-year-old Chinese American girl is now determined to spread her English study program even wider.

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