Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2017 commencement.
Arizona State University international student Meng Wei has a global view of education. The Weifang, China, native appreciates both the subtle and large differences between American and Chinese educational values, seeing benefits and drawbacks of both.
He is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English linguistics this December and is already admitted into a Thunderbird School of Global Management master's program. He acknowledges that he started out focusing only on his own grades, but soon learned through teaching internships how much he enjoyed helping others learn.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study in your field?
Answer: In the spring of 2016, when I took the course ENG 404: Teaching English for Specific Purposes, I realized that I really did want to teach English. In this class, I learned the definitions of TESOL, ESL, ESP, EOP and many other new things. I also learned a teaching style that was different from the Chinese style. After this class, I felt clearer about my career goals.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?
A: In China, teachers often scold students for mistakes on work or exams. At ASU, no professors scolded me; instead they patiently helped me get back on track. Another difference between China and the U.S.: Most high school teachers in China correct students’ every mistake. That makes it the teacher’s responsibility. The American teaching style is to let students find the mistakes themselves.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: My best friend studied at ASU, and he highly recommended the university to me.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I am admitted into the master’s program in global affairs and management at ASU for fall 2018. It has nothing to do with teaching English, but that does not mean I did not like teaching! I do still enjoy it, and I hope I can find a teaching job in the TESOL area eventually.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I would donate the funds to poorer countries for developing their educational systems.