Chinese professors absorb language, culture in MTS...

Chinese professors absorb language, culture in MTSU program

Chinese professors are immersing themselves in American culture at MTSU in order to teach the English language more proficiently.

For the fourth year, the university’s Center for East and South Asian Studies is sponsoring the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program, also known as TESOL.

A total of 17 English instructors from three institutions have taken in everything from seminars on grammar and teaching methodology to American culture.

Participants in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program pose with MTSU personnel in front of Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House and Restaurant in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Dr. David Schmidt, vice provost for international affairs, is standing third from left, next to the door, on the back row, while Yuiping Cui, associate director of MTSU’s Confucius Institute, kneels at far right in the front row. Mike Novak, Confucius Institute assistant director, stands at far right. (Photo submitted)

“Most of them have been teaching for many years in China,” said Dr. Guanping Zheng, director of the MTSU Center for East and South Asian Studies, “so this gives them an opportunity to see how we approach teaching foreign languages.”

The visitors’ itinerary has included participation in the Summer Language Institute, where Dr. Shelley Thomas of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures teaches the Total Physical Response, or TPR, method.

TPR engages the learner in the process through storytelling and physical movement, enabling the rapid acquisition of vocabulary.

Zheng said that large class sizes prevent the Total Physical Response method from being copied for use in Chinese institutions, but the ideology still can be applied.

While visiting MTSU, the Chinese group also has ventured to several nearby locations for a taste of Southern hospitality, including the Stones River National Battlefield northwest of Murfreesboro, the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, and a local church.

“I think it is a very good cooperation between China’s universities and MTSU,” said Lynn Zhang of Inner Mongolia University of Nationalities, one of the visitors. “I appreciate this program, and we learned a lot from our respective professors.”

One group of instructors will leave Aug. 1, but the rest will remain on campus until Oct. 1.

For more information about the program, contact Zheng at 615-494-8696 or

— Gina K. Logue (