Getting to Know You – Tracy

When I think of cool people in the TESOL program, I immediately think of Tracy.  Not only is she one of the coolest people, but also one of the nicest.  I love talking to Tracy and am so glad that we have a class together this semester.  Read on to learn more about this awesome gal!

What’s your name? Si Li (Tracy)

What’s your hometown? Beijing, China

Where did you go to undergrad?  Capital Normal University in Beijing.  I graduated in July 2014. My major was Teaching Chinese As a Foreign Language.

Have you ever taught English before?  Yes. I taught TOEFL Reading Prep class in Beijing at a private institution for about a year prior to coming to Penn. I’d say it was pretty intense, especially in the summer or winter vacation time when all the students are free and preparing for the TOEFL. I once worked 60 days continuously in the summer with only one day and a half break… I felt like dying of course and I couldn’t complain to my boss or company :/ And then after summer we usually only have class on weekends, again catering to the schedule of school kids. So overall it was pretty abnormal schedule compared to everybody else. You have to work when everybody is on vacation and have nothing to do when you friends all go to work. Also, the whole vibe of English test-prep education in Beijing was not really healthy and that’s why I left.


Why did you decide to get a Master’s in TESOL?  I’d like to learn more about more communicative ways of teaching English (as opposed to really prescriptive teaching in China), as well as classroom management skills so that I can improve my teaching skills as a teacher and also have the chances to teach at different levels and also in a broader contexts.

What made you want to come to GSE?  Well, the TESOL program at Penn offers not only theoretical courses but also lots of opportunities for practical teaching, which I really appreciate. Also, I have been living in big city my whole life, Philadelphia seems to me to be a great city to live in.

What do you want to do after you graduate?  Staying here if I can find a job. Haha. But actually I don’t see myself stay in States my whole life since all my family members are still in China. So I might stay here for a couple of years teaching English or Mandarin (which is my undergraduate major) and then go back to China and teach there. Also, I kind of wanting to make an impact on English education in China, making it more like a fun experience for children instead of torturing.


Enough about school, tell me something fun you like to do outside of class!  Sports! I like all kinds of sports! I played basketball on my college team (I know it’s hard to believe since I’m like 4’11). Also, I played soccer for six years when I was in primary school and table tennis and I also love skiing and swimming….Oh yeah I also like biking, it feels amazing biking down Schuylkill River Trail at summer night!

What do you think of Philadelphia?  Pretty cool city overall. Some parts of the city is kind of dangerous so you may want to spend a couple of days to do your research and try to get your ways around. But I like how this city is so diverse and every part of city is different (e.g. South Philly, West Philly, University City and Center City are all very different).

What was the hardest thing you had to adjust to in the United States?  Food? I have gained like 25 pounds after coming here…I tried to eat less, didn’t work well.


What is something you miss about back home? Food! I mean, we have American Chinese food here but I wanna Chinese Chinese food once in a while.

What is something you love about the United States that you cannot find in your home country?  Freedom. People get to choose whatever they like and believe in whatever they want to believe in. As a LGBT person, I also feel like people are more accepting here in the bigger picture.

Do you have any advice/comments/words of wisdom for prospective students?  Be prepared for exploring the unknowns and learn to be independent. Living in a new environment can be challenging but this is also how you grow. 🙂

Thanks so much, Tracy!


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