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China to Develop English Test Data Bank for College Students

China will develop a national databank on English tests for college students, so as to make their English learning better serve economic and social progress.

Chinese Vice-Minister of Education Wu Qidi announced this in Beijing Wednesday, adding that English teaching in Chinese universities and colleges, though seeing rapid development since the reform and opening-up policies were introduced some 20 years ago, still cannot meet the needs of society. Currently, China has 19 million college students but only 50,000 English teachers.

Chinese universities should further improve their English teaching, seizing the opportunity brought by the development of the information industry, especially the construction of the Internet and campus networks, Wu said.

She also pointed out that Chinese college English teachers, when evaluating a student's language skills, should focus on listening and speaking instead of reading. Students should be more active in learning English by using computer networking and teaching software. Besides, the language skills of each student should be graded so that they can have lessons accordingly.

An investigation of 340 Chinese universities by the Ministry of Education showed that the number of schools giving one English lesson with fewer than 40 students attending only accounts for 37 percent, while 20 schools still have English classes with more than 80 students each. Most teachers who give English lessons are required to teach 16 to 20 class hours on average every week, leaving them no time to improve their teaching methods.

Apart from that, the required English tests also lead to test-oriented study among Chinese students.

According to Wu, 180 Chinese universities have started an English teaching reform, and four sets of English learning software specially designed for Chinese college students have been completed.
(Xinhua News Agency February 19, 2004)

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