Why are Chinese students in the US keen to go home? Blame their English
Why are students returning to China in droves (“How Chinese students who return home after studying abroad succeed – and why they don’t”, July 27)? I am Chinese American, I have met and known Chinese students coming to America for years. I was a visiting professor at an elite school in China for seven years. I have seen, known, and talked to many students about their experiences overseas. Based on my personal observations, there are several reasons why many Chinese students are choosing to return home.
In the years or decades past, most students who left China to study in America came from families of modest means. But they had the brains and they wanted a good life. That is why, in the early days, only a small percentage returned home to China. The students who now study in the US come from rich families, and they want to return home because their parents are wealthy and many own businesses.
The tragedy now also is that many Chinese students prefer to spend most of their time with their own kind. Four years or less is too little time for them to get to know the American way of life. They spend most of their time with other Chinese students and not many really improve their fluency in English.
After four years, America is still a stranger to them, and many can’t find jobs here because their English is still very poor. That is because, during the four years here, they don’t care to get to know America better, they isolate themselves from its culture and society and rarely try to learn to improve their English-speaking ability. So they have no choice but to return to China.
I have read article after article on this, and many avoid talking about this critical aspect of life in America. If the Chinese do not socialise with the rest of America, and prefer to isolate themselves in their Chinese homes and Chinese community, it is not surprising to see them labelled as unsocial or unfriendly.
But the real reason many Chinese are not comfortable intermingling with Americans is that they do not communicate fluently in English. That is the problem and tragedy of many of our Chinese students studying in America. Lacking the ability to speak fluent American English and failing to fit in, they choose to go home to their parents, who have the money to support their habits and lifestyles.
Stephen Ling, Washington