About Datong

Chinese female who taught herself English is a bestselling author overseas

By Fang Sha ( chinadaily.com.cn )

update: 2014-08-27

A 57-year-old Chinese woman without any formal training in English and who had to leave work because of a disease in 1994 has just written a book, sharing her experience of teaching herself English that has sold well in dozens of countries and has become a legend in her own hometown, Datong, Shanxi province.

Li Hong, the author of Cool English Hot Stories, who has lived in Datong all her life and is just an ordinary worker in the city's broadcasting and television department, has been studying English now for 20 years.

Her interest in English began when she first saw a copy of China Daily, the country's major English-language newspaper, and was strongly attracted to it and wished she could understand what she saw. So, she set out on her journey of trying to teach herself English and it took a lot of effort, while dealing with the ailment that cost her, her job.

She began by reciting words one by one from the dictionary and gradually formed her own technique for memorizing words. Li says that she used China Daily as her textbook, looking up each word in the dictionary and it often took her several hours just to finish a short piece of news. She wrote down notes on the new words and took them with her wherever she went. After just a couple of years, she could understand most of the contents of China Daily faster.

When asked about what made her want to write such a book, Li explained that memorizing words is one of the biggest obstacles for Chinese in learning English, and many give up on it just because it's too hard to build up a large enough vocabulary. And she began focusing on how to memorize words more efficiently, then, one day an idea came to her. She began making up funny stories to connect a group of words then committed them to memory and after more than five years of hard work, she had her book.

After several months of the book's publication in the US, by Outskirts Press, in Denver, Colorado, the book has seen good results. It became a bestseller through bookstore chains and online and is sold in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, and other European countries and in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The Chinese version of the book has also appeared in China and has done well.

(Edited by Roger Bradshaw)

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