Thursday, September 13, 2007

Experts Voice Worries over Chinese Education in Colleges, Once Again

English is one of the major courses in Chinese schools

Chinese language education is being “marginalized” in colleges and students could not use their native language very well, experts warned.

Some universities have canceled Chinese classes, and textbooks in use are of mixed quality. Today’s college students often pick the wrong expressions, confuse with characters and use poor syntax in their Chinese writing, experts say.

Such a situation is largely due to too much emphasis on English learning, says Wen Rumin, chair of the Chinese Department at Peking University. Many netizens would agree with him and expressed aversions toward too much weight given to English, calling it a big mistake of China’s education and mocking, “What’s the use of learning Chinese? Let’s just study English and talk to each other in English in streets.”

Indeed, English seems to be everywhere in Chinese people’s life. “How many companies turned down job applicants because of their Chinese? How many literature on advanced technology are written in Chinese? How many excellent Chinese movies are out there to satisfy our spiritual needs?” One poster asked.

But a couple of comments denied the notion that people’s Chinese skills are deteriorating. “Native language is something that we are using every day…and we never stopped practicing it.”

Chinese government has promoted a National Professional Chinese Test since 2003, to assess Chinese reading and writing abilities of professionals, especially those working for government agencies and schools. The test results are supposed to be used as a benchmark for hiring and promotion.

Meanwhile, the debate about whether too much attention has been given to English education over Chinese education is likely to go on. It’s not just about language learning. A large part of the debate has been related to the survival and development of Chinese culture in an English-dominating world.


Anonymous said...

Why should learning a foreign language ruin your native language speaking, writing skills?

European countries certainly speak more than one language, and you don't see or hear them complain.

Even in the U.S., for anyone attending an University to get a degree, one must learn NOT one but two different separate foreign languages other than you native language.

In addition, Chinese need to learn better English as even the government employees cannot manage basic proper English spelling and it's even worse for Chinese speaking.

Go visit China and anyone can find everywhere wrong English examples. I even say a Chinese school teaching English with the wrong spelling of America.

The point of all this is NOT to blame, to complain, but to allow communication, to foster cooperation. If China wants to be isolated again, in their language, that's a shame and a pity.

Ask yourself how much society develops when it's government, creates an environment which communication is limited, blocked, filtered and censored?

Here's a good real life example of what I am saying, "North Korea"!

Language is a means of exchanging communication. That's a very valuable skill to have.

English is a good language to learn, it offers more than just business opportunities, it also have a lot of scientific sources available to innovate and so forth.

Let's see China become a golden country for all to experience. Meaning a prosperous time, NOT a RED corrupt regime only caring about capitalism money, right?

China needs in it's schools higher standards, openness and certainly the truth instead of the propaganda being served.

Chinese need a sustainable stable economy too.

Josie Liu said...

Thank you Mr. Anonymous, for your comments.

I totally agree with you that Chinese people need to learn foreign languages to communicate with the rest of the world. In fact, nobody is saying that Chinese people should stop learning English. The problem in China, as some people believe, is that students spend much more time memorizing English vocabulary than reading Chinese literature or practicing Chinese writing. Many students probably put more efforts to memorize English words spelling than the right way to write Chinese characters.

What worries some educators even more is the fact that young students basically think that English skills are more important than Chinese skills, and simply don't realize that mastering one's native language builds a solid foundation for learning a foreign language.

Chinese and English are not rivals. One can master both of them perfectly well. I guess the question for now is how to change the ways both of the languages are taught in Chinese schools to help students learn them well.

Anonymous said...

This is a interesting question. As far as I know, most of the American governmental officials also can not write a proper Chinese sentence. In reality, they may be not capable to write out a Chinese character. No one will take that as that the American government want this country to be isolated.
On the other hand, learning language in most cases is driven by economic reasons. I personally know some American college students who can not write English very well, but they still want to learn Spanish, German or French, becuase that help them find jobs or get higher pays if they are hired.
Chinese students want to study English not becuase they think English is a good language (but of course it is, as all the language are). Nor do they learn English becuase may scienticfic sources are in English. They take the effort because learning English will provide them more opportunities to get higher pays. It is quite simple.

JJ said...

The new england football manager Fabio Capello has vowed to learn english by the 7th of January. Can he do it? Go to Capello Learn English and pledge your support!

Augustus said...

I agree with anon to an extent that irrespective of which language Chinese give importance to, There is a very great need for them to develop excellent english fluency, Currently the english fluency of an average chinese person is below average and it is also accompanied with a thick chinese accent(may not necessarily be true in all cases). Also there is a great need for having english medium schools from the very basic level which adopt english as a first language, that is the only way in my opinion for english fluency to improve. I mean if you look at countries like malaysia English is almost first language there.

It is certainly possible to learn english and chinese simultaneously achieving equal fluency in both, but I think it is a guarguatuan rask as grammar and characters are completely different.

Also chinese need english fluency to sustain their growing economy, as services sector is completely dependent on it.

And finally language is only a means of communication, nothing more. China is going to lose nothing if it's people start communicating in english instead of chinese.

There is so much greatness and history embedded in chinese language, but past is past and present is present.

As a final opinion i like to say that there is nothing wrong if chinese students concentrate more on english rather than chinese, They are only trying to survive in a very competitive world.

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