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New Generation of Children Dumping "Dumb English"


Ms. Zhou, who was admitted to a post-graduate program at Guangxi University in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region was startled to hear her seven-year-old son give her guidance on the right way to learn English.

"Mother, you're learning English for exams only, not for better communication with others," said her son who has been learning English for only six months but can already speak basic every-day English.

In contrast, Ms. Zhou, who began to study English when she was at junior high school and spends time learning vocabulary, still feels awkward whenever she tries to speak the language.

"I'm far behind my son, as children of his generation pay more attention to communication than to exams," said Madame Zhou, calling her English the "dumb one".

Deng Jialu, an English teacher with Guangxi University, said that people who cannot speak English would be at a disadvantage in future as China's entry to the World Trade Organization has stirred up fierce competition in the job market.

"Even if you don't like English, you must be able to master it. Otherwise, you cannot work for foreign-invested companies and get a well-paid job," Deng said pragmatically.

With China's opening up to the outside world and more foreigners coming into the country for business or pleasure, an increasing number of Chinese wish to speak English fluently and are transforming their learning-for-exam approach into learning-for-use.

In Shanghai, school students not only practice their oral English through cassettes but are also launching their own English radio broadcasting programs, surfing on English web sites and watching original English-language movies.

In Nanning, whenever large-scale international activities like the World Folk Song Festival were held, a group of policemen would be sent for a short-term English training.

Liu Gang, a 24-year-old policeman with the Nanning Public Security Bureau, said, "For us, helping foreign guests deal with any trouble they encounter is more important than getting certificates indicating language levels."

(Xinhua News Agency January 28, 2002)

In This Series

English Language Training Profitable Industry in China

Government Staff Favor English learning

Foreign Teachers Introduced Into Shanghai Kindergartens

English Becomes Popular in Tibet

English Becoming Beijing Preschoolers' Compulsory Lesson

Olympic Bid, WTO Entry, APEC Boost Beijing "English Economy"

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