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Teacher battles adult illiteracy with online video courses

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-04-23 20:16
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YINCHUAN -- Each day, Jin Xia gives online reading lessons to her students, having already helped them master 500 Chinese characters.

Over the past year, the 41-year-old from Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region has been using video-sharing and livestreaming app Kuaishou to teach illiterate people to read, following a program of 600 lessons she designed herself.

Armed with a computer, a cellphone and some textbooks, she now has about 100,000 online followers and teaches basic Chinese and mathematics to an online class of over 1,000 students. Each student pays just 100 yuan (about $14.5) for the courses.

Jin is a resident of one of the largest settlement areas for relocated people in the city of Wuzhong in Ningxia. A mother of two, she graduated from a teachers' university in Central China's Hubei province in 2002 with a teaching certificate. She taught at a primary school in Ningxia for three years before going into business with her husband and then finally returning to teaching on a self-employed basis.

"I decided to return to the teaching profession because I wanted to realize my dream of being a teacher and helping as many people as possible to read and write," Jin told Xinhua in an interview at her home, which also serves as her studio.

About 80 percent of her students are women aged from 40 to 60. They are mostly housewives, workers or farmers, who did not have the opportunity to gain an education during their youth.

Most of her students speak with heavy accents from their home regions, so Jin teaches Chinese pinyin, or the phonetic alphabet, together with the characters, helping them memorize the characters while mastering the correct Mandarin pronunciation.

"In contrast to schoolchildren, these adults have a relatively poor memory, so you need to spend more time and have more patience with them," Jin said. "But most of my students have mastered basic Chinese and are able to use dictionaries after a couple of months of learning."

Like school teachers, Jin gets satisfaction and happiness from bringing literacy and math skills to her students. Many of her students have also established close relationships with her.

"One student told me that she had never dreamed of having a teacher in her life. Some students even sent me gifts and herbal medicines collected personally to treat my sore throat, a common illness for teachers," she said.

Jin also teaches math because her students need to master calculation skills for use in daily life.

"A 60-year-old student has learned how to do simple math because she still does some temporary work. Now she is able to teach others how to do math," she said.

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