Shanghai Leads in English Education

Shanghai is now pioneering reform in English-language education. It plans to make its study compulsory in the first grade of primary schools, and bilingual education will become a major method of future teaching.

For decades, English education in China has been hindered by the idea of “learning for exams”. Hence, most students studying English for years still cannot talk freely with foreigners. To reverse the trend, the Ministry of Education recently called on all primary schools to start English teaching from third grade.

Shanghai, an economically developed area and an international metropolis, is taking the lead in the reform by going one step forward and beginning English teaching in first grade.

From the fall of 2001, English education will be popularized in its primary schools. Total English class hours in primary, junior and senior high middle schools will increase from 1,200 to 2,500 a year.

As an effective way to implement English education, Shanghai has been actively experimenting with bilingual teaching. This will expand from key middle schools at the municipal level this fall to those at district level next year.

In pilot programs, the terms and formulas in such courses as computer knowledge, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, history and geography will be given English paraphrasing. At present, 50 percent of primary and middle school students study with Oxford English, Shanghai Edition. Bilingual teaching will also be applied to such courses as physical exercises, music, arts and hand labors. Teachers and students will be required to use English 50 percent or more of the time in these classes.

The new curriculum will put more emphasis on oral work and listening comprehension. Upon high school graduation, students will be expected to have basic ability to communicate with native speakers, thus facilitating their further study, job seeking abilities or social activities.

The biggest problem in promoting bilingual teaching is a shortage of qualified English teachers. This is because, under the traditional training program, English teachers have little knowledge of specific fields, while teachers of certain subjects are unable to pass on their learning to students in English.

To sharpen the English-language skill of teachers, Shanghai education departments at different levels have invited foreigners to open training courses in the city or have sent teachers abroad. Recently, the East China Normal University and Shanghai Normal University have also adjusted their programs to meet future demand.

(CIIC 02/16/2001)

In This Series

China to Start English Teaching in Primary Schooling



Web Link