Wencheng Wang enrolled in the TOEFL Prep program this past fall to accelerate his English. A visiting scholar at Penn State in the field of Traffic Planning, Wencheng began learning English when he was only eleven years old as part of China’s education system. However, he is still working towards improving his fluency, which brought him to the Mid-State Literacy Council office. When asked about his experience at Mid-State, Wencheng described it as “great.” He shared his appreciation for his teachers, Tracy and Carol, saying they “teach very patiently and have good accents.”

There are many benefits that come with learning a second language, Wencheng believes. In his opinion, learning a second language will help him to “open a new world.” He thinks English is especially important because “most information and knowledge is transmitted by English.” He also thinks learning a new language is meaningful because he can learn about a new culture.

With learning a second language also come many frustrations. English can be difficult for Wencheng because the language contains several pronunciations that he cannot speak clearly because his first language doesn’t have them. Additionally, Chinese doesn’t have different sentence tenses, so in some situations Wencheng doesn’t know how or when to use them. There is also the struggle of finding enough time. Wencheng is not able to study as much as he would like because he is often busy with his research work. Speaking confidently in a language that is unnatural to you is one of the hardest things to accomplish. He would often avoid talking to native speakers because he couldn’t understand all the information they said or couldn’t express his own thoughts clearly. Working one-on-one with a tutor as part of the TOEFL program allowed him extensive opportunities to practice both his speaking and listening skills.

Coming to a new country can be intimidating, but Mid-State provided a place to build his confidence and make meaningful connections. Wencheng will return to China in the new year, where he will continue to develop and practice his English literacy skills, building on what he accomplished through his hard work this fall.

Wencheng wrote a poem that summarizes the often challenging experience that living in a new country presents. It also reveals the universal need to be known and understood, to communicate our inner thoughts and inner nature. Thus language, despite its barriers and difficulties, is truly essential to living out our true selves.

Chinese, kindhearted, stressed, frustrated
Son of Dianping and Zhiying
Brother of Wenya
Who feels stressed to be here
Who likes a carefree life
Who needs family, friends, and time
Who lives in Beijing, China

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