Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hawking Linguaphone in Wuhan

On my first trip to China I spent an afternoon outside a mall helping to promote Linguaphone English schools.

As I recall, our main job that afternoon was to look American and approach passersby asking, "English? English?" while giving them an invitation to an upcoming Linguaphone open house.

I was with a group of fourteen college students from my fellowship in Iowa City, and we were in China for three reasons: To learn about sharing our Hope cross-culturally, to visit a year-long team of teachers from Iowa, and to provide conversation practice for Linguaphone's English students.  It was a perfect arrangement because we got to stay at the university with our American friends and then spend all day talking with our new Chinese friends at the school.

We really enjoyed our week working with Linguaphone, and we hoped that our presence provided the added business boost they needed at the time.  We said our goodbyes by performing the song and dance of "Joyful Joyful" from Sister Act.

(Those of you who know me well can imagine the fear that struck my heart at the thought of dancing in public.)

Anyway, I hadn't thought about Linguaphone in awhile until I ran across this article yesterday at www.danwei.orgBankrupt Schools and their Fleeing Foreign Bosses.  The article talks about how four large English language companies have closed their doors in the last year as a result of poor management and economic hard times.  Linguaphone was one of them. 

To be honest, I don't have a strong opinion about Linguaphone's exit from China.  I just wanted to share some memories from my first time in China and direct you to that interesting piece of reporting about doing business in the Middle Kingdom.  Enjoy!

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