Strengthening Chinese Language Skills Through Study Abroad

From Castle Rock, Colorado, senior Jack Bock came to Michigan State University because of its study abroad program and to study Chinese.

The Chinese and Economic major first started studying Chinese in the sixth grade.

“I literally took it because I thought Kung Fu was cool and thought my teacher could teach me some moves, but I found out he didn’t know any,” Bock said. “But my teacher was a really influential guy for me, and I ended up having a really great relationship with him.”

It was that teacher and a six-week trip to Chengdu, China, in high school that made Bock want to study Chinese in college. He chose MSU because of its “great study abroad program,” which he said “drew me in initially.”

large Chinese sign in bright red

This past summer, Bock traveled to Shanghai, China, for one of those study abroad programs and to intern for ConnectChina, a bilingual consultancy company. Based out of the United Kingdom, ConnectChina works with other European companies to set up business with China.

“Going back to China was really fun,” Bock said. “I was able to see the family that I lived with during my visit in high school. They came to Shanghai and we hung out and explored the city.”

During his internship with ConnectChina, Bock did a variety of jobs.

“I ran their WeChat and Weibo. WeChat is the main messaging and communication app in China, and Weibo is like China’s Twitter,” Bock said. “I also answered phones and attended summits and conventions for the company.”

After his time in Shanghai, Bock says he is more “conversationally adequate.”

“When I got to work, the language changed from conversational Chinese to business Chinese,” Bock said. “We really only focus on conversational Chinese in school, so I had to work a little harder to keep up with the conversations in the office. It was a really good reality check. Now I know what I need to work on and focus on.”

Bock plans to graduate from MSU in May 2018.