English language training was declared to be the second most
profitable business in China at the end of 2005. No doubt it will
be the same in 2006.
I suppose native English speaking students can never imagine
six English classes every week, not including sounded reading
sessions in the mornings, but this is the fact. And most Chinese
students find English exceptionally difficult, and fear English
tests as much as Judgment Day.
Therefore, extra lessons are arranged at school, and anxious parents
determined to help their kids make them go on training courses
provided by various people and organizations.
Those kids who are better at English are not much more fortunate:
they are made to take tests and/or enter competitions. Some competitions
promise the prize of extra points in the High School Entrance Examination.
These competitions often start with about 10,000 competitors, more if
Organizing these competitions is a great method to measure pupils'
abilities. Prize winners most probably won't be the usual high-scorers
and 'test-machines', but those who possess conversation skills and
knowledge about English culture, which are not taught properly in most
Students who have had the opportunity to study in English speaking
regions mostly do very well in English at school. They are asked
questions such as 'How do you memorize words just after a glance at it?',
'How could you spell a word according to its pronunciation?', etc.
Well this is probably because they study English in a natural way,
unlike the craming method in most schools.
Some schools, the High School affiliated to Renmin University of
China (RDFZ) for instance, produce fully-qualified multilingual
students with appropriate methods. Qualified teachers of English,
German, Spanish, French, Russian, Korean, Japanese and Arabic are
empolyed by the RDFZ, which actually out-performs many universities with
language departments. Elective subjects taught in English are also available.
Many delegations from overseas schools and educational agencies come to
visit the school every year. And students get to practise their language
and diplomatic skills.
Unfortunately, such teaching is currently available at only a few schools
in large cities. Well, if schools did their work properly there won't be
as much business for English language schools. Let's give our best wishes
to English learners in China.
About the author
Mike Lee (李达健) is a high school student at The
High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China (人大附中)
in Beijing. He's currently learning English and German at school, and
Japanese and Latin at home.