Communication with Chinese host siblings


by Joseph - HCE Mentor

I have a lot of respect for people who can speak more than one language. As someone who has studied second languages in school before, I know that fluency is a very difficult accomplishment to achieve, so I was impressed with the English skills of my host siblings. Most of my siblings were classmates in 2nd grade and has a similar beginner skill level, so it could be a challenge to communicate with them at times. The one exception was Kevin, a teenager with much more advanced English skills.

I learned as well to add gestures and other body language to my spoken English, to help them understand the meanings of words they were unfamiliar with.

I learned the importance of talking very slowly to them and using basic vocabulary that they’d understand. I learned as well to add gestures and other body language to my spoken English, to help them understand the meanings of words they were unfamiliar with. Two of the host families relied on their 2nd grade child as their primary means of communicating with me, so it was sometimes a challenge to express myself considering their relatively basic level of English. Kevin already had a good grasp of English, so it was much easier to talk with him without limiting my vocabulary. I’d still have to talk slowly at times, but he understood a variety of concepts using English, so I we were able to dive into deeper and more advanced conversation topics. For future HCE applicants who aren’t fluent in Chinese, I wouldn’t recommend staying with a family that doesn’t speak English and only has young children. It can be a huge challenge to communicate with them since their English is so basic, and it can also be hard to practice with or teach then. If you don’t have any experience with China or the Chinese language, I would recommend staying with host families whose parents have solid English skills, or kids whose children are already old enough to have studied a good amount of English in school.

Back to all stories