Christopher’s Story

Christopher’s Story:

Christopher was born in Tacoma, Washington, to parents Robert and Ann Benum. He grew up in Tacoma, and the neighboring communities of Gig Harbor and Puyallup. He has one sister, Amy, who is one year younger than he is. His dad is thirty years older than he is.

When Christopher was at college, he volunteered with international students at the college to help them practice English conversation and communication skills. He volunteered with an English as a Foreign Language teacher for one hour every week.

During July and August of 2004, Christopher obtained his certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the School of Teaching ESL in Seattle. One month after completing his certificate, he taught his first classes in China. He taught for one year for Binzhou Medical College, now called Binzhou Medical University, in Yantai, China. Yantai is on the coast of China, across the Yellow Sea from South Korea.

The following year, Christopher went to work for Guangdong Peizheng College. This college is in Guangdong, a large city of the southern part of China. Many of the Chinese immigrants in the United States and Canada come from this city. It is also called Canton because it is the center of the language called Cantonese.

Christopher worked for Guangdong Peizheng College for 2 years, between 2005-2007. He taught English to Chinese students who were majoring in Business English. These students worked as interpreters for the Guangzhou Trade Fair. The Guangzhou Trade Fair attracts business people from all around the world, especially from Africa and the Middle East.

In 2007, Christopher returned to the United States. After interviewing for a teaching assistant position with Highline Community College that autumn, he was hired by the college as an instructor of English as a Second Language. He taught there from January 2008 to December 2008.

In January 2009, Christopher went to Monterey, California to attend graduate school at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, now called the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He attended grad school there until December 2010. His major was in International Business, with an emphasis in International Education.

That same month, he went to Haiphong, Vietnam, to teach for a British-owned language company called Apollo Education and Training. He taught English there for all types of people, from Kindergarten to Corporate Executives. He also taught specialized courses in Pronunciation, Business English and a test-preparation class, based on the Integrated English Language Testing System.

In February 2013, Christopher returned to the United States. He tried to find a job with Highline Community College, now called Highline College, but all of the classes already had teachers. So, he started working for another teacher as her Teaching Assistant in April 2013. Due to the large number of students who want to attend class on Saturdays, a new Saturday class was added later that month, and Christopher was asked to teach it. He has been teaching classes on Saturdays for Highline College ever since.

Christopher can speak a lot of Chinese, but only a little bit of Vietnamese. He practices reading one paragraph of Chinese every morning and every evening. Although he does not understand all of the sentences in the Chinese book, he understands more when he reads the same paragraph the next morning. Christopher does not use Chinese at work. However, by trying to practice it every day, he remembers and understands the difficulty of learning a new language like English.




  1. Where is the School of Teaching ESL?
  2. What type of paper did Christopher get from the School of Teaching ESL?
  3. Which language can he hardly speak at all, despite living in the country for more than two years?
  4. In which month did Christopher move to China?


  1. How many months did Christopher work for Highline College in 2008?
  2. When Christopher started working for Highline again after coming back from Vietnam, what was his first job?
  3. What job has he done for more than eight years?
  4. What is a name for a job where people work at the highest level of a big company?
  5. What was Christopher’s first type of experience related to teaching English to speakers of other languages?
  6. When Amy was twelve, how old was her brother?