Retired teacher helps illiterate adults via livestreaming

The 73-year-old Yang Weiyun had been a Chinese teacher in an elementary school for 30 years.


Yang Weiyun during a class. [Screenshot from Yang Weiyun's livesreaming account]

November 10, 2022

BEIJING – In the livestreaming channel of Yang Weiyun, no singing or dancing is performed nor are products sold.

Yang teaches pinyin, reading and writing, something that has been most familiar to her for the past 50 years. The difference is her students are mostly adults, Qilu Evening News reported.

The 73-year-old hails from Huainan city of Anhui province and is a veteran educator. She had been a Chinese teacher in an elementary school for 30 years and a kindergarten head for another 20 years.

In retirement, Yang also wanted to do something meaningful. The rise of short video platforms gave her the idea of continuing her education endeavors through livestreaming online.

The retiree opened her livestreaming account in May 2021 and offered free pinyin courses designed for kindergarten pupils about to attend primary schools. However, she gradually learnt among her viewers there are a lot of illiterate adults.

Yang said she found many illiterate adults develop a sense of inferiority. They are afraid to go to new places, worried that they couldn’t teach their children or read their boss’s instructions. So, she added targeted content to meet their needs.

“Many illiterate adults didn’t have the chance to go to school when they were young. They are the ones in urgent need of becoming literate. I wanted to give them a new starting point,” Yang said.

Considering that most of the adult students have to make time to attend the lessons, Yang holds two livestream sessions every day starting at 8:30 am and 8:30 pm, respectively.

According to the seventh national census carried out last year, there are 38 million illiterate adults in China. Yang’s livesteaming channel offers an easy and private way for those who want to overcome adult illiteracy. Now she has nearly 300,000 followers on the short video platform Douyin.

Zhang Mei (pseudonym) is among the students who benefited from Yang’s livestream lessons. She was born and raised in the countryside and had never been to school. She moved to the city with her husband after they got married. She found illiteracy brought challenges to her city life. She couldn’t find suitable work. She also couldn’t fill in forms or read the assignment from teachers for her children.

She watches Yang’s livestreaming whenever there is spare time. Now she can read Chinese characters if they are marked with pinyin and knows how to write her name. She also found a job.

Yang said students learning through her livestreaming channel each have their own demands. So she always prepares her classes carefully after concluding a livestreaming session.

Yang said she tried her best to figure out what ways the students can learn and remember better, and her biggest wish now is to see these students graduate from her classes.

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