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CHINA BOUND: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC
vate sessions can provide an opportunity for more active involvement in learning the language. Make the best of the opportunity by bringing along your own textbooks and tapes (consult with your language instructor in the States before leaving) and asking to use them as the basis for your special instruction. If you are weak in conversation skills, ask to practice dialogues. Or practice writing or learn to read cursive Chinese handwriting. Be clear about your own language goals, and explain them clearly to your tutor. If your language is good enough and you want to work on translations, bring along your texts or explain what materials interest you most and ask the tutor to help find them. Prove your devotion to studies by regular attendance in class.
You are likely to find student-teacher relations to be different in China. They are more hierarchical, and students are not expected to disagree with or challenge their professor. Your teachers' interest in you is likely to extend beyond the classroom into aspects of your life that you may regard as personal. A visit from a teacher to your dormitory is not uncommon, and they will be concerned if you are obviously unhappy or ill, or if you are having problems in class. Some Americans find this attention suffocating, but by understanding that the concern is genuine and well-meant, most come to feel affection and respect for their dedicated, hardworking Chinese instructors.