Feb 8 2012, 3:09 PM ET The story of OMG! Meiyu, Jessica Beinecke's wildly popular web video series for Chinese who want to learn American slang.
That language shapes culture and vice versa seems intuitive and axiomatic. Language and educational exchanges have always been a defining feature of the U.S.-China relationship. Regular people-to-people exchanges, including the State Department's "100,000 Strong" initiative started under President Obama, have been important to the bilateral relationship because of persistent and often serious mutual distrust. The experience of teaching English in China was perhaps most memorably captured in Peter Hessler's book Rivertown. Like Hessler and many Americans since, I too was once an English teacher in China, attempting to dissect the ingenuity of Jay-Z and explicating Hamlet's neurosis to my students. Though I can't say they fully understood the significance of H.O.V.A and To Be or Not to Be (I'm still not sure I do either), I hope they at least learned something about the diversity of America.
Given that experience, I was delighted to discover that, in the age of YouTube and social media, American English lessons have been taken to another level. Meet Jessica Beinecke, a Voice of America journalist who decided that she could leverage all the web 2.0 tools at her disposal to create a show that taught Chinese youth American slang. It's shot with only a webcam and was exclusively on Chinese Youku until recently migrating to YouTube. A profile in the Washington Post describes the show:
Read more at The Atlantic