Tuesday, December 18, 2012

English and Education

        John and I pay for a subscription to CHINA DAILY. Interesting reading.
In an article in the weekend edition Nov. 3-4 p. 4 entitled "China's English Ability Lagging Behind"
I read that while China is a country with the largest number of English learners in the world, it has
dropped from 29th to 36th among the countries that promote English speaking in their education
systems according to the Education First English Proficiency Index. The article explains that in China,
learning English usually ends once schooling is completed and Asian people do not work as hard to
improve their English once they step into a career.
        It goes on to say, "Compared with many other countries, like Singapore and India, China lacks an 
environment to practice English. Students have few opportunities to practice English outside of 
school. Learning a language requires practice. Chinese students study English for test... 
Especially in the Chinese mainland, English is still rarely used in daily life because people can read only 
Chinese on many items such as road signs and food wrappers."

Makes sense. 
What the view on the street? Here is one student's view:

        "In China's history the education is always a useful method to divide the citizens into different groups
and classes. And once this classification is decided, its quite hard for people to change and it will make a 
big influence on later generations. There is no doubt that examinations in China are the best way
to give everyone an unbiased and objective chance to get a higher level of education and the telling evident
is the college entrance examination.
        "I once watched a video (TED) which really gave a clear argument about this phenomenon. Students study
for 10 or more hours a day for 3 or 4 years in high school. We have no chance or other choices but to struggle. 
Everyone is in an extreme study situation and if you fall behind other, to will be difficult to catch up with your    
peers again.
        "However, the tertiary education to some extent, disappointed most of the students. We used to think the 
idea of a university education was to instill high moral values and mold a sound character. But nowadays, 
even some key universities force-feed the students and make them memorize for memorization's sake. 
In my opinion, students should not be treated as passive glasses of simple ideas or learn the knowledge by rote.
Students will easily stop thinking by themselves and follow the teacher's idea blindly. Not only can it constrain 
creativity but also dampen the students' enthusiasm." 

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