'Crazy English' causes confusion for students

By Chun Yu Jin-zhang
0 CommentsPrintE-mail China.org.cn, August 25, 2009
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"Crazy English" is a method in which students learn and practice English by shouting back a sentence given by the instructor. As a teaching method, it's good insofar it helps taxi drivers and street peddlers learn a few English sentences to deal with foreign tourists. But the shouting practice will become a nightmare if adopted nationwide in schools and universities. Li Yang has been promoting American English, a local accent in the English-speaking world. There are other English accents, like Canadian, Indian and African, which are all derived from British English.

Merely shouting some sentences is far from enough to help students learn English. Students rarely – if not never – are presented with a situation in which they need just to parrot a native speaker. Moreover, the more students shout, the more they move away from standards and the more difficult it will be for them to learn the language.

The promotion of Crazy English over the past 15 years has resulted in most students believing English has no standard. Some even mistake American English for the standard one, which has made most students in China after 16 years of studying English sound neither British nor American. Many are so confused with the two different kinds of English accents that they choose to keep their mouths shut.

Qualified English teachers in China should take it as a duty to tell their students the differences between British and American accents. The two accents are so different from each other that some foreign judges at the annual CCTV University Students English Speaking Contest have suggested renaming the competition "American Speaking Contest." Good teachers should let students know how British and American people feel about the two accents: It has been confirmed by both sides that those who speak British English in the United States are more respected, while those who speak American English in the U.K. are somewhat discriminated against.

I would like to offer some hearty advice to Mr. Li. If you are determined to make a great fortune out of selling American English to our innocent students, please start from teaching them American phonics. But please be informed that since the founding of the Peoples' Republic of China, for more than half a century, Chinese people have learned the International Phonetic Alphabet. Few people have learned American phonics systematically. What you have been doing has just caused confusion and troubles, making students lose about which accent to follow and how to learn, and thus wasting so much of their valuable time and energy.

Mr. Chun Yu Jin-zhang, president of a well-known stationary company in China, has been working as an amateur teacher of English for over 30 years and is the first man in China to promote the Queen's English.


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