Yesterday I had a discussion with an international student that I thought that I would blog about. After class was over he asked me some questions about what we were discussing in class and about some problems that came up in a book that he is using on his own to learn English with. He is from China, a part of the country that borders Korea, so he is bilingual in Mandarin and Korean, because those are the languages that are used where he grew up. On top of that he studied enough Japanese to get into this university, and is now bent on learning English. He claimed that he came to this university in order to study English because the student to teacher ratio is good, especially for English.
I mentioned that he would be a valuable asset to any company now with his Chinese, Korean and Japanese ability. He said that he was happy to know those languages, but without English it didn't mean much. I was a little incredulous, and he said, "Japanese is a minor language. There aren't that many people who use it, and they all live here. Look at English. I can use that where ever I go." He is right, of course.
We discussed the competitive nature of new Chinese companies and how important it is to have English ability to get into a position in a good company, and that even with the English program that we have in this program, it won't do for the student who really wants to master the language. That they will have to do on their own, and with the teaching staff here as long as he attends this university.
It was very enjoyable to talk with such a motivated student. I hope some of that wears off on some of the others in his class.