Having decent linguistic skills can help you understand the world better

Having decent linguistic skills can help you understand the world better

Having good language skills is essential for truly understanding how different cultures work – just ask the linguistics and translation students who spent an entire semester in parts of the world not their own

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The students who went away to different universities across the world came back having had their eyes opened to all the different sorts of cultures and languages there are out there. Photo: City University of Hong Kong

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Students went far and wide across the world – from Finland to Spain to the US. Photo: City University of Hong Kong

On January 21, 2015, a busload of students from the mainland and students from the Department of Linguistics and Translation (LT) at City University of Hong Kong spent a week together experiencing the culture of Hong Kong, from its cinemas to the landscape, and from food to village life.

In September of the same year, 56 linguistics and translation students went to different universities around the world. They spent a whole semester in entirely foreign cultures, and got to sample different ways of life, far from what they knew in Hong Kong.

It wasn’t all for fun though.

The students took part in these global missions to prepare themselves for the future. They discovered a lot about language, culture, and personal development. No doubt the students’ responses when they got back were along the lines of:

“The rewarding experience for me was meeting people of different backgrounds and learning to look at things from diverse perspectives. I also learned to take care of myself, to be independent and to keep calm when facing emergencies.”


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“I loved having the opportunity to explore cultures from around the world and the experience of a totally different style of teaching and learning.”

“Students at my host university came from other countries and backgrounds. By making friends with them, I learned how to get along well with all sorts of people.”

“The broadening of my horizons and the exposure to the world stunned me most.”

These are things that we wanted the students to realise during their overseas exchanges. It wasn’t just about taking courses overseas and earning credits that can be transferred back to Hong Kong; it was about opening their eyes to our increasingly globalised world.

We didn’t want them to come back just to put down their exchange experience on their CVs; we wanted them to develop a keen awareness of the world.

It goes without saying that language is an important part of getting to know the world. Having good linguistic skills enables and encourages people to explore the world. This is exactly why CityU’s LT has been thriving in its teaching and learning activities.

Led by Professor Liu Meichun who joined City University from Taiwan as Head of Department, LT is active in exchange programmes offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at City University, which is attracting more and more international students for its courses in language. They are taught by an international faculty from Hong Kong, mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, France, Japan, Germany, Spain, the UK, and the USA.

For more information about the Department of Linguistics and Translation at City University of Hong Kong, please visit their website.

Edited by Ginny Wong

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