Name: James O’Malley
Location of Study: Beijing, China
Program of Study: Beijing Language Summer Program
Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures and Liu Endowment
A brief personal bio:
I am a rising sophomore from Tampa, Florida and though I have had an interest in learning Chinese for the better part of my whole life, I have only just completed my first year of studies in the language. I have never been to China before this summer and am very excited to see the benefits that an immersion program will have on my Chinese speaking abilities.
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
At Notre Dame, I intend to major in Finance and Chinese. I have always heard the best way to learn a language is to dive right into the deep end, fully immersed hearing and speaking the language, and understandably China is the best place to speak only Chinese. The SLA Grant has been a blessing in alleviating a great deal of the financial burden that it takes to uproot yourself and live in a foreign country for two months, and I greatly appreciate how much the program will help my academic endeavors. I strive for nothing short of fluency, on par with native speakers, which happens most naturally if I were to study in the environment of native speakers. I also aspire to incorporate the skill of proficiency in Chinese into a career in Finance, which given the current state of the world economy, would make me a very valuable employee and global citizen.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
Given the overwhelming evidence in support of studying a language in a foreign country rather than in a classroom, I hope to accelerate my learning as much as possible. When I return to Notre Dame, I intend to re-enroll in Chinese courses at least at a third year level, if not higher. In addition, one of the hardest portions of learning language is understanding aphorisms and idioms that are not literal and therefore confounding to the nonnative tongue. While in China, I hope to absorb as many of these adages while I am surrounded by those who understand their meaning.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
1. At the end of the summer, I will understand Chinese at least as well as an enrolled third year student.
2. At the end of the summer, I will have a grasp for many Chinese idioms and will be able to use them on my own.
3. At the end of the summer, I will be able to sustain basic conversation without relative ease and speed and without having to think too much in advance.
4. At the end of the summer, I will be able to read and write about more advanced topics without defeating difficulty.
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:
In learning a language, so far I have found that there is no way better, as with learning any other skill, than to just put your nose to the grindstone and practice. I think that the mandatory language pledge will be just the last resort incentive I need. If by the end of the program, I am thinking in Chinese first and then English second, I will be happy with the progress I have made. A few first meetings with program advisors has included the joke that during the course of the program you will have a dream in Chinese. For some reason unbeknownst to me, this is one of my goals. In only Chinese, I intend to communicate with my peers, but limit that communication in preference for speaking for natives in order to correct my accent and tones. After class I intend to explore the city of Beijing in between studying to speak like a native speaker, because when in Rome…