As we lovers of language all know, language learning is a process that inherently allows us to become more independent. We learn to communicate with people from around the world without depending on a translator. We have the chance to discover other cultures and expand our worldview. And, if you’re especially courageous, you might move to another country to immerse yourself in a new society like CeLTA graduate assistant Sam Liu.
Sam moved to East Lansing from Tianjin, China since 2017 to study Linguistics with a minor in TESOL at Michigan State. He just finished his bachelor’s degree last December, and since then has been continuing his studies as a graduate student. Sam’s role as a GA for CeLTA provides him with experience in language teaching environments and provides a deeper insight into the language learning community on campus. Once finished with his master’s, Sam hopes to apply to a Ph.D. program in applied linguistics.
He initially ventured to the United States as a linguistics student hoping to develop his knowledge of English. While taking classes at MSU, Sam discovered his interest in all aspects of language, from teaching to studying. In addition to Linguistics and TESOL, Sam even picked up Spanish as another second language. He was also a volunteer at the MSU Community Language School, where students of all ages can come to develop or learn new language skills.
These are just a few examples of how Sam has immersed himself in the American professional climate. Outside of educational and work experiences, Sam has discovered plenty of other aspects of American culture that excite him. For example, Sam really loves country music! His favorite artists are contemporary singers such as Morgan Wallen, Blake Shelton, and of course, Luke Combs. One of the best trips Sam took in the U.S. was to Nashville, where he had the opportunity to visit The Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. When asked about his favorite American foods, Sam expressed his newfound adoration of cheese, particularly blue cheese and Swiss.
Naturally, there is quite a bit from back home that Sam misses. Unfortunately, Sam hasn’t been able to find his favorite breakfast food, youtiao 油条, at any Chinese restaurant in America. The dish consists of long strips of fried dough served with soymilk, similar to a cruller or churro. In addition to missing the cuisine he grew up with, he also spoke about missing his family back in China, which he seldom has the opportunity to visit. Now that COVID cases are decreasing, hopefully, there will be more chances for him to travel. As a matter of fact, traveling is exactly what Sam is interested in once he finishes his education. He would like to see more of the States and even expressed an interest in seeing Canada.
As a result of all this traveling, Sam has undeniably developed his sense of independence. According to him, the Sam that lived in China was introverted and a little shy. Having no other choice than to come out of his shell once he came to the States, Sam became an outgoing, curious individual with tons of friends. Sam takes pride in the community he has surrounded himself with and knows that his experiences wouldn’t have been the same without those he met along the way.
This community is what helped Sam build his confidence in communicating in English. Like all other language students, Sam recognizes that confidence is key for effective communication and worthwhile practice of a language. Furthermore, Sam has advice for those learners who are still working on building up their self-assurance: imitate! He recommends watching videos on YouTube or Netflix in the target language, pausing after each sentence, and mimicking the speech patterns of the native speaker. For Sam, it is a foolproof method, plus it can be done without anyone else around to hear!
Our team at CeLTA wishes Sam the best of luck in all his endeavors, whether it be teaching a language or discovering a new country artist. We are looking forward to getting to know him even better and seeing what amazing things he will bring to the MSU language learning community.
Story by El Taverna