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McAnear



WBE
Cristin McAnear
Linguistics
Katy, Texas

"If I hadn't been a Baylor student I wouldn't have had this opportunity," says Cristin McAnear of her experience teaching English in Beijing, China, during summer 2006. Cristin is a student in Baylor's linguistics program and was working on her minor in Spanish at the time.

As a result of her connection with Baylor, Cristin spent three weeks as a volunteer teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to Chinese students at Tsinghua University English Summer Camp.

Before teaching in China, Cristin taught ESL for two years with the Learning English Among Friends (LEAF) program in Waco. She says her LEAF experience prepared her for teaching in China, as did a year of Chinese she took for her linguistics degree.

"It's so interesting how we have different words or sounds, and it can all come together to convey so much of what we're feeling," she says. Cristin notes that intonation can have an effect on meaning, even in English.

Being a student was helpful as a teacher in China. Cristin says, "I understand the difficulty" of learning a new language and the importance of creating an un-intimidating environment for learning language in conversational classes.

Her students' questions were a large part of the reason Cristin chose to major in linguistics. "I love learning about people in other cultures and around the world. I see learning languages as a gateway to learning who people really are, not just learning how to say ‘hello,' but learning how people communicate," says Cristin.

"To show people that I want to know their language is showing people that I want to know who they are," she says.

As for finding her place at Baylor, Cristin adds, "I feel like there are so many values and interests of mine that I have a place to really dive into at Baylor." She has found the smaller size of the department a good place for receiving personal attention. "Most of the classes aren't just this lecture from the front [where you are] writing it down. It's [something] we get to participate in."

Cristin plans to continue combining her love for people and language when she graduates, pursuing a career in ESL or translation. She has learned from linguistics that "no language is bad; no culture is bad," asking instead, "How can I communicate with other people?" Cristin is well on her way – being nearly fluent in Spanish, having taken a year of Arabic and Chinese each, and knowing some Tibetan and Thai – with a love, not just of language, but of people.

"I love learning about people in other cultures and around the world."