Name: Connor Tomshack
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’m a sophomore chemical engineering major from around Cleveland, Ohio with a huge interest in languages. I’ve studied a few languages in the past to various degrees, including Spanish, Japanese, and Latin, and last summer I studied in Spain for six weeks. However at Notre Dame I decided to minor in Chinese. I have taken two semesters of Chinese at school and this will be my first time going to China.
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
The SLA Grant is important to me because it will make it much easier for me to travel to China. I think spending some time in China is crucially important to becoming proficient in a language as different from my own as Chinese is. I also am very much looking forward to better understanding Chinese culture and Chinese society, and broadening my horizons in that way. I would also ideally get some sort of work in the future in which I can use Chinese, and this grant will go a long way to achieving that goal.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
From this trip abroad I would like to acquire a much better understanding of China and Chinese culture, including history, customs, food, etc. As far as the language goes, I would like to achieve a higher degree of fluency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. I would especially like to improve listening and speaking, because these skills are the hardest skills to train back home in the States, where I’m much less likely to run into Chinese speakers on regular basis. I’d like to get to the point where I can have a conversation with a Chinese speaker where neither of us is straining too much to understand and to be understood.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
- At the end of the summer, I will be able to understand Chinese spoken at a natural pace on topics that I am at least somewhat familiar with.
- At the end of the summer, I will be able to understand native media enough such that I can get the gist out of most conversations or written language.
- At the end of the summer, I will have the skills necessary to Chinese III at the beginning of next semester.
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:
While in China, I will speak only Chinese for the duration of the program, resorting to English only in emergencies or when the person I am speaking with knows no Chinese. I will keep an open mind in China, and try to immerse myself in the culture as much as can, even if I have to leave my ‘comfort zone’. I will take advantage of office hours and other opportunities so as to get the most out of the coursework. I would also like to do some exploring around the city; one of my regrets of my trip to Spain is that I did not explore as much as I could have. I will only be in China for eight weeks, and who knows when I might return. I can be a shy and quiet guy sometimes, but I hope to overcome that in order to experience more of China.