“It’s Like Some Kinds of Skills Like Swim[ming]. You Know It But You Don’t Use It”: (Dis)connections between University Teaching Reforms and the Lives of Recent Graduates

Part of the Language and Globalization book series (LAGL)


In the spring of 2007, I traveled around southern China visiting many former students who had graduated from CSU and had begun jobs and careers in a variety of industries and cities including in Hong Kong and Macau. My main interest was to interview my former students about their experiences in ELC classes and programs during their time at CSU, but we often discussed how much English they were or, more commonly, were not using in their daily jobs. Many of the students were worried about losing their English proficiency because their colleagues rarely spoke English with them, and many had supervisors or bosses who did not speak English at all. Depending on their position, they noted that they primarily used English in emails. Many noted that their companies required that they were fluent in English in order to be hired, but English, in particular speaking skills, was not needed in their daily activities. I was immediately intrigued and wondered if the content and lessons that I and other ELC teachers had spent so much time preparing were useful in our students’ professional lives. In short, I wondered, do university graduates who stay and build careers in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau continue to study and use English in their professional and personal lives?


Pearl River Delta English Proficiency Professional Life Extracurricular Activity Interview Participant 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hunter CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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