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Chinese students visit Santa Clarita

Teens hone their English skills around town

Posted: July 29, 2008 11:32 p.m.
Updated: September 30, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Julia, left, and Lisa play Cruising USA at Mountasia as part of a Chinese student language class. The class, which is composed of two visiting student groups, goes out around town so that the students can become more familiar with American English.

Students from Daqing and Shanghai, China are in Santa Clarita for three weeks to see the sights and practice their conversational English skills.

The students, ranging in age from 12 to 19, take classes each morning at College of the Canyons ELS Language Center and spend their afternoons visiting nearby attractions, trying out their "American" English.

"They're staying with Santa Clarita families, and they're having a lot of fun," said Fern Jones, international student advisor for the center. "They've been studying English in China, but it's different to actually speak it in America."

The students were at Mountasia on Tuesday afternoon after experiencing a different kind of Southern California event that morning: A 5.4 magnitude earthquake.

"I was very afraid of it - the table and chairs shook," said Hu Bo, 14, from Daqing, China. Bo goes by the English name "Sapphire," and was in class when the earthquake struck, but said it was not her first. "We had an earthquake in Daqing in June."

Sapphire said she enjoyed learning about movies and special effects at Universal Studios, and that classroom teaching is different in America.

"In China, the teacher will read from a book to teach us, but in America, the teachers play games with us and we learn English by playing the games," Sapphire said.

Chaoyue Zhao, 13, who is using the name "Violet" while in America, said that while she had been to Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland, the people were friendlier at California's Disneyland. She also is enjoying her stay with a Santa Clarita family.

"They're like my mommy and daddy," Violet said. "They often tell us about American culture and they cook American food for us."

In addition to visiting popular tourist sites like Universal Studios and Disneyland, the students spent a day playing sports at Old Orchard Park, went ice skating at Valencia Ice Station and took the Beach Bus from the McBean Transfer Center to Santa Monica. The students travel mostly by public transportation to further practice their English skills, Jones said.

"Riding Santa Clarita buses and learning American games helps them learn the language," she said.

"They're also learning how things are done in America by living with American families."


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