Multi-cultural couple takes classes to learn each other’s language

Love has no barriers, especially for two people who were raised in completely different cultures, but have the magic of love that keeps them together and inspires them to grow their marriage.

Tom and Lisa McKague are a couple who met online.

Lisa was born and raised in China, and Tom was a typical American businessman.

Because they don’t know each other’s language well, they’ve enrolled in classes, Tom at UMHB and Lisa at First Baptist Church Belton.

Lisa did not know English when she first began to write to Tom, so she had someone else perform the task.

She said she wrote in Chinese, and her sister’s colleague would translate it from Chinese to English for her.

After about four months, Tom went to China to meet the person on the other side of the world.

He would make those trips another three times as interest developed.

Even though Lisa spoke little English, and Tom did not know much Chinese, there seemed to be an instant connection.

They got married in China, but the struggle to be in America and to adapt became a challenge. Even though they had a ceremony, their marriage was not official in America until a year later.

Tom and Lisa have been married for two years, and Lisa is finding it difficult to adjust, but she is making it work.

One of the ideas the couple had was going to language classes. They attend the English as a Second Language classes  at First Baptist Church in Belton, so Lisa can better her English. Tom goes to a Chinese language class at UMHB taught by good friend and special education graduate major Yifang Chen.

Chen first met Tom and Lisa at FBC during an ESL session.

Their relationship grew from acquaintances to friends when Lisa needed assistance from Chen.

“She (Lisa) wanted to learn how to drive. So they asked me to find the Chinese translation of the driver’s license manual,” she said.

It was through these sessions at ESL classes that Chen, Tom and Lisa became great friends.

When Tom first heard Chen was giving free classes at the university, he decided to join. Not only would this help him learn Chinese, but it was a way to have a stronger relationship with his wife.

Tom’s amazement of the Asian culture started before he ever met his wife.

“I think it’s fascinating how old it is …. 5,000 years ago the Chinese were eating with sticks, and the rest of us were still eating with our hands,” he said.

The former translator is glad that the couple comes to the classes and believes Tom is a good student.

She said, “I am very grateful to them …. The both of them came, and they enjoyed it …. He is a very earnest learner.”

She further added the evidence she personally sees of how they are making their marriage work.

She said, “Since they love each other, they are willing to sacrifice …. Tom is making an effort to get closer to Lisa, and you can see that,” she said.

There were some who had doubts that the class would not be good because it is free, but through encouragement and assistance from some professors, Chen’s class went from a possibility to an actuality.

“I’m not charging anything, so they will doubt the quality…but my teachers gave me a lot of support,” she said.

Lisa attends the classes to support her husband as he learns her native tongue.

As their marriage grows and as life in the U.S. becomes easier, Lisa desires to become part of the American dream.

As a result of the couple knowing each other for two years and the effects of ESL and Chinese classes, the language barrier between them has become slimmer.

Lisa said, “We discuss simple topics … and news…. Since we have been (married), we can guess and understand each other well.”


Author: Natasha Christian

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