Mother of man with autism memorizes 220,000 English words in less than two years

Beijing — A 51-year old mother of a man with autism memorized 220,000 English words, their translations, and their meaning— all in less than two years.

Liyan Zhi is a university teacher at the Xi’an Jiaotong University, where she teaches economics and finance. In a world where technology and the internet have become daily parts of the lives of most people, Zhi says she felt left out as students have become easily acquainted with the language as time passed by.

It was in Aug. 6, 2013 that she decided that she was going to learn English, and started by reading a paperback English-Chinese dictionary. Zhi got up as early as 3 am everyday to spend about six hours reading through her dictionary, and memorizing the words there. At times, she would head to the university library and borrow English magazines.

Less than two years later, Zhi has mastered all 220,000 words in her dictionary, including their Chinese translations and their meanings.

Today, Zhi is using her new skill to work as a translator, in addition to her job as a teacher at the Xi’an Jiaotong University. Zhi said that her 26-year-old son with autism could not support himself, and she needs all the financial support she could get from her jobs. Zhi and her husband separated when she had her son, and she has been raising him on her own since.

Despite the challenges that Zhi had to face, she said she kept going by telling herself “you have to keep moving forward.”

Source: Kat De Guzman on the China Topix website: Walking Dictionary: Chinese Woman Memorized 220,000 Words in Dictionary