Monday, March 26, 2007

Chinese People Worried about Negligence of Chinese Language

Mr. Cheng Helin at the lecture

In a recent lecture in Hangzhou, Mr. Cheng Helin, deputy chief and a host of Phoenix TV Chinese Channel, faced a college girl’s question about her career problem as a Chinese major.

She said that while learning Chinese is gaining popularity overseas, college students majoring in the language find it hard to land a job at home.

In reflecting the event, Mr. Cheng wrote in his blog that it is true that while Confucius Institute is growing everywhere around the world, Chinese education is “facing embarrassing situation” at home.

Mr. Cheng’s advice to change the situation is to combine Chinese study with some specific career training, such as editing. Meanwhile, as he suggested, universities should remove their Chinese departments altogether and instead make Chinese a required subject for all majors, and “the status of Chinese class should be superior to that of English [class].”

Mr. Cheng is but one of an increasing number of Chinese people who have noticed the trend that English learning is more valued in China than Chinese, mostly because English skill is better appreciated in the job market. In hundreds of online comments regarding Mr. Cheng’s proposals, the concern is manifest.

A poster who identifies himself as a Chinese major in college was sad that a group of teenagers laughed at him when he told them Chinese is important. “I don’t know what does this show or mean…The fate of Chinese merits worries,” the student writes.

“Countrymen should examine their own conscience: should English be more important than Chinese? Ridiculous! A national will be over if its language is over,” another post reads.

People are also eager to call for more attention and respect for China’s native language.

“Most of the Chinese cultural legacy is passed down through generations by Chinese characters. If nobody studies the ancestors, where would our ancient culture go?” one poster asks.

A poster named “child-forever-loving-Chinese” writes: “as Chinese, if one can not master his mother tongue, what is the use to be fluent even in many other languages?”

“Without Chinese, we will have no language to face the world,” still another says.

Although quite a few comments applaud Mr. Cheng’s idea of making Chinese study a requirement for all majors, many don’t like the proposal of eliminating Chinese department in universities. Some even went so far as to warn that doing so could lead to the fall of the entire nation.

For some people, the problem is not just about Chinese education, but also lies in the entire country’s economic pursuit. On that front, English opens the door for working with foreign business, where a lot of money could be made.

Majoring in Chinese is not bad, but something is wrong with the social environment, as one poster points out, “Today’s society is too eager for quick success and instant benefits.”

And there is perhaps hope, too. “We have good reasons to believe that when our country’s economy advances to a certain stage, the state policy will favor the spiritual [cultural] realm,” one comment says.

Mr. Cheng's blog entry
Online comments


Xiao Zhu said...

I think Mr Cheng is very correct in suggesting that a language degree be combined with some specific career training. Even English majors have the problem of not being very well suited to any particular career after graduation. Language is a tool that can complement one's job, but it cannot be the entire sum of one's career focus.

William Smith said...

I am also learning Chinese language by a special and innovative service in Beijing Chinese School. I like to learn in live class with teachers from Beijing directly. I also like to practice Chinese with volunteers freely everyday. Watching Chinese learning TV on CLTV is also interesting and helpful to practice listening and learn more about Chinese culture.

Anonymous said...

I recently decided to broaden my horizons and decided to learn a new language; the question is what should I learn? I’ve asked a few friends and they were useless! Everyone was telling me something different, in the end I have decided to attempt to learn Chinese. I work in business and the power China has keeps growing and growing, so learning a bit of the language could be a massive help in my future career. Does anybody know of any reasonably priced but high-quality language learning software?