One of my students returned from a teaching internship in a large city notorious for its general lack of financial resources. I asked her about her experience and the following is some of her reply. It's interesting to note the similarities in public education found in most every country. Sometimes we hear too many one-sided stories and come away with a mythical view of other people's situations. One of the best 'take-aways' of our China experience is an honest view of the world as it is.
As a Grade 3 to 4 primary school teacher in an English Training Center in a large but poor city, I was surprised to hear some situations of primary school English education there.
In the public primary school, the students have 2 English classes per week. But it's amazing to hear that there are 90 to 100 students in every English class! What's more, almost every English teacher has 4 to 5 different classes! So, the students there seldom have homework because their teachers don't have the time and energy to correct them after every classes! Thus, that's the reason why the training center is so popular.
A local teacher told me that the poor local finance was the direct reason for the situations. The local finance can't afford too many English teachers. Nowadays, primary school and middle school students in too many cities don't learn phonetics. In my opinion, learning phonetics is very important because it can help students recite words!
Also, there's a funny ban about alleviating burdens on primary school students recently from the National Education Bureau. "No homework for kids of Grade 1 to 6. Only one school exams each semester for kids above Grade 4 on English, Math and Chinese subjects." But it seems that this ban is gonging to change.
Isn't the English education in China quite amazing? :)