by Clair Lasater, Ph. D.
"What is the best way for me to improve my English," the students ask. Students who aren't in my classes stop me on campus several times a year, to ask this question. My own students ask the same. I tell them, "Purchase and listen to CDs or cassette tapes. Get book-audio courses over at the bookstore. You can listen to the audio over and over and over. You'll have the books for years. Also read, read, read, read exciting English fiction" This has been my best, and sincere answer. It has been.
Now, I suggest, in addition - that as further motivation to study - that they sign up for, and take, every English language proficiency test available to them in China. Take CET-4, CET-6, TEM-4, TEM-8, IELTS, TOEFL, Public Test of English, etc., etc. Take, and pass, (or fail), each one - one after the other. Sign up, and show up, for every English test available in China."
Next I tell them why. They can purchase prep courses at any college bookstore, or at Xin Hua, for these tests. These cram courses are tape or CD and workbook or book format. Shops sell two and three and four different products for each test! The extra instruc- tion and listening, (each course provides abundant audio), supplied by the different major test-targeted prep courses, for say, seven separate tests, (times two to four - remember that each test is "covered" by as many as four test-course manufacturers), should place a student several marathon miles ahead of his or her closest local college or university competition.
Incentive is provided by the challenge of beating the examinations, and by the prestige that accompanies the passings.
A surprise extra benefit provided is the incredible listing attained, to place under the EDUCATION heading of the English language student's resume. Immediately under the degree(s) catalogued, will appear a list of three to seven recognized test conquests. This profound addition to a recent graduate's CV means he or she gets the job.
Clair Lasater has taught English at the Beijing Youth Political College; and as professor, at Zhangjiajie College of Jishou University, Ling Ling University - (now the Hunan University of Science and Engineering), Shunde Polytechnic College, Maoming University, and Hainan University. He lectures, currently, at Shandong Jiaotong University.