Neenah’s New Chinese Teacher Shares Experience From China


Photo by: Elizabeth Shinnick

Ms. Elizabeth Shinnick is the humorous, punctual and dedicated new Chinese teacher.

Cole Tauscher, Student of Journalism

Many differences exist between China and the USA, and Ms. Elizabeth Shinnick experiences it all. Shinnick is the humorous, punctual and dedicated new Chinese teacher, post living and teaching in China for five years before joining the NHS language department. 

Living in China, she feels surprised to find out that life is extremely convenient: Food is cheap, subways take you anywhere, and stores are found everywhere on streets.

Shinnick expresses being treated differently by the Chinese people, but not in a bad way. Instead, most people in China are extremely curious about her because most have never seen a foreigner before, much less talk to one. This makes them interested in talking to her.

Shinnick also shares that she experiences some differences while teaching, as Chinese people see teachers as a “fountain of knowledge,” so teachers are normally treated with more respect and reverence from students. Shinnick isn’t used to this as school is normally more student-focused rather than teacher-focused in America.

The most challenging difference, however, focuses on participation.   Students do not participate. Chinese students aren’t used to the style of teaching in the USA, where answering and asking questions is common. This creates a large problem for her participation-based teaching.

“I had to think of other ways to do it, like making a reward system just to get students to raise their hands to answer questions.”

Shinnick knew that she isn’t going to live in China forever, and after five years she decides it is time to leave China. It is hard to part with the things she loves in China, but she knows that she needs to move on.

Returning to the USA, in the Fox Cities where she grows up, she lands a job opportunity in the NHS language department. Now she shows her passion for teaching and Chinese culture in Chinese class, learning to use her past experiences to shape her present and future.