English learners get new insights from China

March 15, 2010 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
"Insights from China", the fifth film in the 7-part series "The Learning English Video Project", has just been released for free viewing on EnglishClub.com.

Independent film director Daniel Emmerson and photographer Joel Carr travelled to Shanghai, China, to film this segment of The Learning English Video Project that explores how and why people are learning English around the world. "Insights from China" focuses largely on the staff and management of a Chinese airline company that has recently committed to learning English. The film will be of particular interest to teachers and learners of ESP (English for Special Purposes), a rapidly growing sector of English language learning. Since the release of "Conversations in Spain" late last year, English learners and teachers around the world have been eagerly awaiting this episode, keeping in touch with the director throughout the production process via his official blog on EnglishClub.com.

Upon arrival in Shanghai, the film duo relied on Daniel's iPod to communicate in Mandarin with the taxi driver. As a student of Mandarin, Daniel's experience was not unlike the staff of Spring Airlines whose team is "just starting on their English journey." Spring Airlines is the first low-cost airline company in China. Determined to become a successful international airline, the company has insisted that all of its workers learn to speak fluent English. "It seems that every member of staff has their individual take on what English means to businesses in China and how trade is affected by language," Daniel writes in his blog. From pilots, to senior executives, to the IT department and cabin crew, it seems "safety" is the number one reason for airlines to have a common language. The CEO of Spring Airlines, Zhang Xiuzhi, has set the bar high. As Daniel and Joel discover, she began learning English "from scratch" 18 months prior to their interview, commanding a strong enough level to be able to give speeches and arrange English classes for the rest of the team. Like the majority of other language learners, the main stumbling block for the CEO is finding enough time to study. Zhang takes English homework to bed at night and even studies in her car.

With the help of a few members from the Spring Airlines team, Daniel and Joel captured the culture and beauty of China from a variety of locations. When describing a tour through the city, Daniel says, "I simply cannot stress just how impossibly huge Shanghai is…we walked until we were on the verge of collapse." The crew also flew to the smaller city of Xiamen where they documented the "sights and smells" of markets, coffee houses, beaches and museums.

China left a strong impression on Daniel Emmerson as it is expected to do for viewers. Since filming "Insights from China" the director has returned to the country twice to do research for his MA in International Relations and to find inspiration for his novel-in-progress. With his work on "Insights from China" now complete, Daniel Emmerson and Joel Carr have been in Cambridge, England, wrapping up the documentary series with a feature on homestay, an integral part of the international English learning experience.

The official films, a full set of online and printable learning materials, and behind the scenes clips and blogs are all available free on EnglishClub.com. Students and teachers are able to watch all the films free online with or without subtitles and/or transcripts. Teachers are also welcome to download the films to run on their own computers in the classroom. The Learning English Video Project is sponsored and presented by EnglishClub.com.