TAIPEI (The China Post) — “The home is where the heart is. And my heart is here. So this is my home,” the U.S. educator and the founder of “Studio Classroom,” Doris M. Brougham, said with a smile.
In an interview with The China Post, Brougham, an American educator who has been teaching English and spreading the gospel for more than 70 years, shared her challenges and her journey in promoting English education in Taiwan.
The 94-year-old educator has seen huge changes in Taiwan and its transformation from an agricultural society to an industrial society.
Her heart has always been with Taiwanese people, she said. During her stay on the island, she has combined her passion for education and devotion to spreading her love to all of Asia.
Witnessing the changes in Taiwan over the past decades, Brougham recalled: “When I first came, there was a lot of disease and sickness around. Sometimes, when you go to a restaurant to eat, you could be served food by a leper.”
Brougham said that you could see buffalo walking on the road in those days, but now the streets are full of scooters and cars.
The changes in the streets and the way people live as well as the things that we do are very different from the past, she recalled.
As a leading language educator, Brougham can speak Mandarin, Taiwanese and indigenous languages. So, she kindly shared her tips for learning new languages.
“If you really want to learn another language, you have to really immerse yourself a little bit in the culture, and you have to listen into it. And also, you have to have motivation, she said.”
Her advice to young students, based on her past experience, is “to listen, and you have to repeat what you hear in practice, which is very important in learning a language.”
Asked about the reason why she chose to promote English education, Brougham explained, many Americans came to Taiwan to do business and preach at that time, and Taiwanese people had to start learning English to negotiate.
“Also, learning English is to let people know what Taiwan was like,” Brougham said.
With this observation in mind, Brougham decided to start English learning programs to assist the government and help children learn English.
“So they could compete in the modern world and be part of the modern world,” she added.
While expanding operations, the Studio Classroom has faced many challenges too.
In the early days, there was only a two-page black and white handout, and then the team came up with the idea of letting people learn Business English and videos on YouTube.
She said the most important thing is the mindset and to have the courage to face the challenge. “Sometimes we’d say this must be our last meal, but somehow tomorrow we’d always have enough money for us to keep going.”
The founder of Studio Classroom said that the best thing about Taiwan is the people.
Taiwanese people are very willing to learn and accept change, and more importantly, people are very friendly, she said.
“It’s the people that make Taiwan great.”
Taiwanese’s courageous spirit to accept change and challenges echoes the core spirit of Studio Classroom’s operations all along, she stressed.
As Doris M. Brougham said, “Go move with the change, learn how to handle change, go into and develop as the society develops.”