Geoffrey Schofield, a 27-year-old American who teaches English at a high school in Luohu District, has lived in Shenzhen for five years after getting a college degree in economics.
“I guess I wanted to see the greatest economic explosion of the early 21st century firsthand, and Shenzhen seemed like the best place to go!” Schofield told Shenzhen Daily.
“What a city lacks in history and tradition, it more than makes up for in youth, vigor and opportunity. There isn’t another city in China quite like it. ... While it isn’t a ‘world city’ perse, you can meet people from anywhere in China — it’s like seeing a slightly different snapshot of the country with every person you talk to.”
Many foreign teachers find it difficult to get most Chinese students to speak English without thinking too much, including Schofield. He said that he just tries to make the classroom environment fun, lively and exciting so that the students are much more likely to feel comfortable speaking.
“They are naturally very shy, and anything I can do to get them to speak more will make them better speakers. The average student has a vocabulary level that is quite high, but most spend very little time speaking and listening,” said Schofield.
Schofield’s interview was on Friday before he had quite an important appointment — meeting members of the language exchange group that he set up with a friend.
This is one reason why Schofield’s Chinese pronunciation sounds like a Beijing person’s, which is considered the most standard pronunciation in China.
“We gather at a restaurant at Coco Park every Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. The first time we tried to hold a meeting, only 5 people joined us. But now we have 20 to 30 members usually,” said Schofield. They also have a chat group on WeChat so members can communicate.
The persistence Schofield demonstrates in learning Chinese can also be seen in his body-building. Any man would be impressed by his muscular shape.
From Schofield’s perspective, language learning and body-building have a surprising amount in common. Both require discipline, consistency and using the correct methods. Discipline helps in defying procrastination. Consistency helps in making continual progress, and using correct methods assures efficiency and effectiveness.
Actually these three components apply to learning almost anything. As he has also started to delve into computer programming, he plans to combine his skills to start up a Chinese fitness website with a friend.