• Tue
  • Sep 2, 2014
  • Updated: 7:39am

Chinese Parliamentary Sessions 2013

March 2013 sees the annual meeting of the two legislative and consultative bodies of China, where major policies are decided and key government officials appointed. The National People's Congress (NPC) is held in the Great Hall of the People in China's capital, Beijing, and with 2,987 members, is the largest parliament in the world. It gathers alongside the People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) whose members represent various groups of society.

NewsChina

English-language studies 'destructive' to China's education, says CPPCC deputy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 12:05pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 2:43pm
 

The head of a national research institute in China said English-language studies were "destructive" to education, which is facing an "unprecedented crisis".

Schools are placing too much emphasis on English, said Zhang Shuhua, head of the Intelligence Research Academy, adding that language studies should be treated as a means for social reform and development, but, instead, they are seen as an end.

He called it putting the cart before the horse. Zhang made the remarks on Monday at a discussion session during an annual gathering of China's political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Zhang said many students with good academic performance have been blocked from universities because of poor English test scores, government news portal China.com.cn reported on Monday.

He added that recent “English enthusiasm” in China has taken up a large chunk of educational resources, at a high cost but with little gains. 

Zhang argued it was “absolutely unnecessary” to impose English-language studies on students who pursue professions in Chinese medicine, ancient Chinese language, Chinese history and others that do not require the use of a foreign language.

In China, children start to learn English as early as kindergarten. In middle school, it is seen as the most important subject next to Chinese and mathematics. University students must pass a language test before they can graduate; some also take a more difficult test to pursue post-graduate studies. 

Because students devote more effort into passing English tests, they spend less time studying for courses for their major, dealing a "heavy blow" to overall education, Zhang said.

In any case, Zhang continued, despite their efforts, Chinese students may be mastering useless "mute English", referring to poor oral language skills.

The CPPCC deputy cited a 2010 survey by China Youth Daily that showed 80 per cent of people polled agreed that there is a language crisis and that Chinese skills are deteriorating. Of those, more than half blamed the emphasis on foreign language study.

Zhang suggested elementary and middle schools focus on teaching Chinese and maths and reduce other subjects such as biology and chemistry, which should be non-required courses. He urged that English-language programmes be reformed to move away from exams and adopt more applicable lessons. 

Founded in 2011 by national think tank Chinese Academy of Science, the Intelligence Research Institute mainly gathers, arranges and reports on domestic and global academic research and theory.

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

24

This article is now closed to comments

the sun also rises
what is wrong with learning a foreign language in primary and junior secondary stages ? I wonder. As English is still and will be an international language,Chinese kids and teenagers learn it well and schools emphasize on the learning of it is very normal indeed.To blame the deterioration of Chinese language skills on learning English at the same time is just a poor excuse of not teaching Chinese language properly and skilfully.(e.g.now the middle schools teach Kim Yung's kung fu novels in their Chinese lessons instead of Lu Soon's) To catch up with the rest of the world and better communicate with other races/people of different nationalities,learning English well is a must.Luckily,Hong Kong parents still treasure the learning of English and would spend quite a fortune and time to ensure their children master that language.Bravo !
johnyuan
About a decade ago when I taught in China after seeing how my students at a university struggled with their English I concluded then that there was no point to learn English. The students were being robbed of their time and energy from one’s major study to waste time only in achieving questionable English skill.
My thought was neither to excuse those students for their poor performance nor the entire system and aims about learning English in China. I am more thinking that English should be more efficiently used.
For most of Chinese including students, English is a tool to understand what is being spoken or written in that language. They aren’t to speak or write in English. China has plenty academically trained interpreter and translator. It is more efficient to rely on them than one’s own poorly learned English.
Hong Kong in my secondary school days there was a year of English-Chinese translation course which students had to take. No intention to make anyone a professional interpreter or translator but it was an interesting subject for anyone with language inclined ability. Hong Kong University and King’s College in fact were training ground in the beginning of colonial rule for local students to work in government offices to bridge the language gap with its Chinese subjects. So there was no need for everyone to learn English (or Chinese). China should do the same and eliminate the English learning burden.
xiaoblueleaf
"Animal Farm": a bunch of fools.
tjkjloerlej
I'm flabbergasted a communist aka xiaoblueleaf would have allegorical insights. Do they import George Orwell novels in the mainland ? When are you going to cyber attack the supreme capitalist American financial institutions again?
napoleon_wang
it's time to sleep.goodnight.everybody.we discuss this topic tomorrow.
ianson
As a matter of incontrovertible fact, English has become the world's anti-nationalist language. It is a force for global unity. As such, it is the natural enemy of the Chinese Communist Party with its antediluvian emphasis on patriotism and xenophobia which its leaders (a la Hitler and Mussolini) know all too well are so essential to its continued existence. English breaks down the barriers to a better, safer, kinder world.
Hollander323
I tend to agree with the finding in the report because I believe in linguistic determinism.
Have you guys noticed that people from countries speaking same language tend to share similar values, ideologies and cultures? This is because similar values, ideologies and cultures are carried in the media (education, news , general communication etc) with the same language, their people are therefore conditioned to follow such values, ideologies and cultures.
Have you noticed that, although without the endorsement of the UN, the US used the so-called preemptive right to invade Iraq in 2003, those countries which supported the US in the invasion are mostly English speaking countries (UK, Australia etc).
Let us think! These high ranking Chinese officials are not NUTS..
tjkjloerlej
Interesting Hypothesis. Based from what you said : ""with the same language, their people are therefore conditioned to follow such values, ideologies and cultures." Strange why does North Korea suddenly flash through my mind. Mysteries abound. Indeed. Don't get me wrong because I think we are on the same page. You are leading us to believe in conspiracy theory and I wrote something below that resembles political suppression in the name of education.
likingming
Know english and you will win every battle with foreigners !
知己知彼百戰百勝
napoleon_wang
很认同!!否则一直窝里斗实在是内耗!!

Pages

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or