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Tianjin English Club boosts students' communication skills

By China Daily | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-06-12 14:16

Xing Xiaoxing, an information technology professional in Tianjin, has spent the past year developing Tianjin English Club, a university-based nonprofit organization.

He and his partner, Zhang Jingzhong, a postgraduate at Tianjin University, have organized events every week since the start of May last year, helping students to share their experiences and feelings, discussing issues such as how to find a girlfriend and dream jobs.

"The club is a resurrection of English Corner, giving students the chance to talk with native English speakers and practice their oral English," Xing said. "We already operate at 14 universities in Tianjin and Beijing, and plan to expand to other universities soon."

Zhang said English Corner was dying when they started Tianjin English Club, adding that more Chinese students now place greater importance on improving their English skills.

At its most recent event, to celebrate the anniversary of its founding, the club invited an artist from the United Kingdom, a philosophy professor from Canada and a biology professor from the United States to give speeches and answer students' questions.

"My foreign friends say Chinese students are shy and avoid communicating," said Xing, causing the whole room to burst into laughter.

Xing said he got the idea to start the program from a work project themed "communication is the key to success".

For example, in Silicon Valley, the world's center for innovation and technology, Indian workers are more likely to secure a management-level job than Chinese due to their stronger multicultural communication skills, Xing added.

Sri Lankan student Tharuka Dharmasena said, "TEC has created a great environment for foreigners and Chinese to express themselves and understand each other, creating friendships."

Zhang also said friendship is a key element of the club: "After running the program for a year, we have found that when students share their problems and are given advice, friendships are born."

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