Dustin Wall is a junior interdisciplinary studies major at VSU with a concentration in international studies, ESOL and fine arts. He has a unique set of skills that put him ahead in his major and future career.
Originally from Winder, Georgia, Wall has attended VSU since 2013. He had to test the waters before deciding on his current major but has always been interested in new languages.
“My original plan was to study English and teach it as a foreign language, but then I realized it is more literature based than learning how to teach the language,” he said. “I switched to education because it required such a high GPA status. I just decided to look around and chose the INBS path, so now its allowing me to do stuff with teaching English.”
Now, Wall interns at the English Language Institute on North Campus in order to gain more experience.
“I help monitor and observe classes,” Wall said. “If a teacher is absent, then they put me in charge of teaching the class. I hold study hall there. It’s all experience based.”
Wall does have an advantage within his desired career. Not only is he motivated and passionate about what he does, he can also communicate with a wide range of people from different cultures.
“I can speak 18 languages; I can speak English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, mandarin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Hindi, Tagalog, Hmong, Turkish, Hawaiian pidgin and some archaic Latin.”
Because he grew up speaking English and Spanish, Wall finds that his other favorite languages are Japanese, Thai and Filipino.
Wall began his path to learning different languages when he was eight years old. He explained that growing up in a small town didn’t leave much opportunity to meet people from different ethnic groups.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t like to speak English all that much like once you speak so much of one language you get bored of it,” he said “You want to learn something new. My best friend in second and third grade was Hmong, not Mongolian but from a culture of nomads from Asia. So, I began learning Hmong. After I learned a little bit of Hmong, I thought it was pretty cool to learn another language, and I wanted to learn more and more.”
Although Wall is not fluent in all 20 languages, he can hold conversations in all of them. His most fluent languages are English, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese.
“So now if I see somebody who does not speak English, I’ll go up to them and try to listen to their language and most likely I can catch on,” Wall said.
Ironically, he said the hardest language to learn was Chinese even though it is one of his most fluent languages.
“It is just because I speak both Mandarin and Cantonese,” he said. “Mandarin has four tones and Cantonese has nine tones. I am better in Cantonese, so when I speak Mandarin I have to think of what I’m saying because I think in Cantonese.”
These skills are the ones that paved the way for his decision in his major. They also enabling him to perform better in his classes and internship.
Wall said he finds most of his class’s pretty straight forward and that you just have to understand how you want to approach every obstacle and treat each situation.
“The major classes are actually very easy,” he said. “All you have to do is go to the class and see what the teacher wants. It’s more likely that you have to actually think about what you want to do. This is your future career: something you want to put up with or something you don’t want to put up with. How you deal with an incident that comes up and those thoughts is what you have to process.”
When he is not in class or teaching classes, Wall enjoys extracurricular activities at his dorm.
“I dance once a week,” he said. “I just teach them in my dorm, Centennial Hall. There is a free room there, so I teach them once a week. I did teach dance club once, and it was pretty fun. I also like traveling, photography, dancing, music and of course, learning different languages.”
Wall’s intended graduation date is fall of 2018, and he has big plans for the future.
“After I graduate, I’m planning to teach blind and deaf students in Japan, but I want to teach them English,” he said. “When I studied abroad, I learned more Japanese, but I also began to study Japanese’s sign language to better benefit my future career. I thought ASL and JSL were the same thing but their completely different.”
Story by Alex Dunn, Campus Life editor. Photo courtesy of Dustin Wall.
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