Donald Trump’s fading opinion poll ratings also take tumble among China’s English-language students
US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is not only trailing his Democratic rival in American opinion polls, but his support is fading among another group of people – English learners in China.
The language students have watched the election process evolve as part of an extended class over the past year – learning new words from different candidates and imitating the way they speak – until the battle to be America’s next leader has come down to straight fight between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Trump had initially had the edge in winning the students’ hearts. Many have used social media to express their admiration for Trump’s simple choice of words and short sentences – so that even beginners can understand his speeches.
“They feel Trump’s points are easy to follow because of his simple and direct expressions,” said graduate student Yin Hao, who helps prepare Chinese subtitles for the US presidential debate videos. “Hillary tends to use longer sentences with more complicated meanings.”
However, Trump is growing increasingly disliked over his blunt comments and lack of logic – especially since a 2005 recording of him talking about groping women surfaced this month.
Yang Rong, an English-language teacher in Zhaoqing, Guangdong province, played the video of the second US presidential debate during his lecture, hoping students could learn new phrases to use in their daily conversations.
He said both candidates had shown excellent debating skills, but students needed to focus on Clinton rather than Trump.
“Hillary speaks clearly using the standard language used by politicians,” Yang said. “Trump is rude.”
Clinton’s comments also shows she uses slightly more advanced language than Trump.
In a March study, researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University in the US, found that Trump used words typical of seventh-grade Americans, compared with Clinton’s ninth-grade level.
But some learners do not mind coping with a bigger vocabulary.
“Except for some difficult words, Hillary uses a simple sentence structure and moderate speaking speed,” a social media user posted on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. “And her voice sounds really nice”
Wang Haoran, a 25-year-old civil engineer in Zhengzhou, Henan province, has been dubbing the two candidates’ speech clips using an English-learning application on his smartphone.
After a period of hard work trying to imitate the candidates’ pronunciation and intonation, Wang also found the Democratic candidate was a better to learn from.
“Hillary is very logical,” Wang said. “Trump is casual. It seems he talks about whatever comes into his mind.”
Most of the Chinese students who watched the presidential debates were aiming to improve their English, Yin said.
His team produces subtitles in both English and Chinese so that learners can follow the candidates word by word.
On Weibo, one of the most liked posts about the US election was one inviting English learners to watch the second debate because it contained “loads of spoken phrases that lead to high scores in TOEFL [Test of English as a Foreign Language]and IELTS [International English Language Testing System].”
Chinese students need to take one of these two English-proficiency tests to apply for most overseas schools.
To meet the demand, educators, media and language-learning services are making every effort to generate teaching materials that are effective and eye-catching.
The widely watched US election has proved to be one opportunity they could not overlook.
Yang said students could easily memorise new words they heard during the presidential debates because the subject was interesting and up-to-date.
In slides Yang prepared for his class, he listed dozens of phrases mentioned in the debate that students could use in their everyday life.
One slide said that “Personally I think” could be used to state an opinion, while “on the contrary” and “I can’t possibly agree with you” should be used to challenge opposite view.
On a webpage dedicated to English learners, the state-run English-language newspaper China Daily published a series titled “watch US election debate to study English”.
The first article in the series introduced the word braggadocios, meaning boastful of arrogant behaviour, by quoting Trump saying: “I have a great company. I have a tremendous income. And the reason I say that is not in a braggadocios way.”
The candidates’ family members have also played a part in the students’ learning process.
Probably without knowing it, Trump’s daughter made a contribution to online dictionary Youdao’s “one sentence a day” section.
“Take nothing for granted. Know that the harder you work, the luckier you’ll get – Ivanka Trump,” the sentence for September 27 states.
The US presidential election may have provided plenty of resources, but educators have been warned to be careful when searching for English-learning materials for use by minors – thanks to Trump.
“Students should be accompanied by parents or teachers when they watch the debates,” Yang said. “Trump does not respect women, and he interrupts all the time.”