Meeting My Host Family in China and First English Lessons

Meeting My Host Family in China and First English Lessons

by Afia Yeboah, Greenheart Travel Homestay Teacher in China

Day 3第三天 Dì sān tiān


Nǐmen hǎo! Hello, Everyone.

It’s Day 3 in Beijing, China, and I finally get to meet my lovely host family of five.

Meet My Host Family:

My host dad, Mr. Gao, is a businessman here in China. My host mom is Ms. Gao Lin. In China, the last name is placed before the first name in introductions, so in America she would be known as Lin Gao; first name Lin, last name Gao.

Ms. Gao is an attorney here in China. She passed the Bar in New York, USA and also received her LLM degree.  She shared with me that her eldest two sons, William and David, ages 6 and 5 respectively, were born in Orange County, Los Angeles, California. Her youngest, Vincent, age 2, was born in Vancouver, Canada.

Learning this information lead me to asking, “what were the boy’s nationalities, technically speaking?” Ms. Gao explained and this is what I gathered:

According to American law, if you are born in the United States, you are a United States Citizen. William and David have an American passport. They can declare their nationality when they are older. According to Chinese law, if you are born to parents who are Chinese, then you are Chinese. Vincent was born in Vancouver, Canada. I’m not so familiar with Canadian law, but I believe he is Canadian through birth and will also have the ability to declare when he is older.

The eldest sons, William and David attend primary public school, which is free, and according to Ms. Gao, very good education. Besides kindergarten, the boys take many classes such as fencing, horsing, swimming, chess, piano, drums and sports. Ms. Gao shared that they have 3 ½ music lessons on Saturdays. And after kindergarten the boys excitedly ask: “ So what kind of class do we have today mom?!” I told Ms. Gao that she has “busy little men,” and laughing, she agreed.

These 6, 5, and 2 year-old boys are precious. They are smart, cute, talented and quite a bit of fun.


William’s strength with English is his writing. His writing is very neat and he knows a wide range of subjects. I met with his English teacher who is from England, and he shared that William knows about school, feelings, restaurants, his things, numbers, personal needs, etc.

David’s strength is in his speaking; He can speak small sentences and string words together very well. He is a little younger than William, so obviously his writing ability is a little less than William’s, who has had more exposure to the English language.

Vincent’s strength is in food. This two year old can EAT. I’ve never seen Vincent without food in his hand. He loves to eat. He also knows words like “hi”, “hello”, “mama”, and “baby”, which is really cute. He’s adorable.


The boys also have two nannies, which are known as “āyí” in Chinese and translated to aunt in English. The āyí’s are responsible for the cooking and cleaning around the house.

I went grocery shopping with Vincent, the 2 year old, and one of the āyí’s today. She doesn’t speak English at all, which made for an interesting trip. The grocery store was called “METRO” and it was within walking distance from our fenced and guarded apartment complex. Mr. and Mrs. Gao both suggested that I visit “Metro” with the nanny to get the items I like most.

So we get to the market and of course I’m excited to see American brands that are easily recognizable, such as Sprite, Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice, Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, Pringles, etc. and I happily load my cart. I also grabbed other basics like sandwich bread, cheese, tortillas, and fruit.

shopping in china

Later, I speak to Chao, my B.E.I.T. rep, and she tells me that American foods are imported and more expensive. Basically, I could have gone to a less expensive local grocery store to get some of the same items. Oops! I had no idea because of the language barrier between the nanny and I. But no big deal, of course, because I now know for next time, and the food items I purchased will last for a couple weeks.

When we return to my host home, we all have fish and rice for dinner. I give the boys their first English lesson, and at the end of the lesson I show them the movie “Mulan,” which is a great animated Disney movie based in China. The boy’s loved it so much that they asked me to show them Mulan 2 as well!

food in china - 1

Today was a great day, I love my new family, and tomorrow I look forward to meeting up with a former colleague of mine from the University of Maryland, who is currently teaching English in Beijing for a year! The adventure continues!

Signing off for now. Until next time my friends,



One thought on "Meeting My Host Family in China and First English Lessons"

  1. Jose A Arevalo says:

    Nice post! Your comments on food reminded me of a friend of mine who was my roommate during my study abroad in Nicaragua a few years ago. His family was originally from China, and he used to EAT! I remember him telling me that culturally he was taught to always ‘finish his plate,’ unlike us in America where it’s ok to ‘leave your leftovers.’ Not sure if you have noticed a difference in the culture when it comes to eating/dining?

    Thanks for sharing, Afia!

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