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Is English Fever Finally Abating?
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RPMcMurphy



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 90
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:24 am    Post subject: Is English Fever Finally Abating? Reply with quote

The need to learn English is, for many Chinese, unnecessary and annoying. You can't get through the Gao Kao without it, but how many high school graduates have you come across who can actually use the language? Then we have students passing CET4 who can't say much more than "hello??"

They don't want it, they don't need it yet, every year, Jumbo loads of unqualified native [English] speaking teachers [NESTs] are brought in. English majors are the only ones who require NESTs, and those should be appropriately qualified in TESOL; post-graduate qualified that is! And of course, unless they are paid Western salaries, they will be hard to find.

South Korea has already taken the lead here, with NESTs being phased out of schools in Seoul, the biggest market.

So, will the fever soon be over? Will Chinese education authorities wake up to the fact that most NESTs aren't needed, particularly when they generally don't know what they're doing? There's no evidence that NESTs produce graduates with a better standard of English than NNESTs, and the issue of accent is a red herring, especially as the majority of English interchanges that take place world-wide involve non-native English speakers talking to each other, where a bad imitation North American or British accent can only be a distraction!
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GeminiTiger



Joined: 15 Oct 2004
Posts: 999
Location: China, 2005--Present

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:43 am    Post subject: Re: Is English Fever Finally Abating? Reply with quote

RPMcMurphy wrote:
The need to learn English is, for many Chinese, unnecessary and annoying. You can't get through the Gao Kao without it, but how many high school graduates have you come across who can actually use the language? Then we have students passing CET4 who can't say much more than "hello??"


The need to learn advanced mathematics also seemed unnecessary and annoying to me going into University, but I still needed it if only for its ability to improve my logical understanding.

English serves not only this purpose of expanding knowledge but also the very down to Earth purpose doing anything anywhere with anybody besides China is very likely to require it.

The fact is that the Gao Kao is as far as I can tell a bitter reminder of the Confucius education system. The methods taught by their secondary school teachers used are simply to help the student PASS and not UNDERSTAND anything.

Gaokao is more or less the whole reason that so many college students seem so much like high school students back home.
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kev7161



Joined: 06 Feb 2004
Posts: 5782
Location: Suzhou, China

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I am hoping at that stage someone will get the crazy idea to have teachers teach English classes to only the top students and get rid of this notion we need to teach every student at the school or apply some lottery to choose which students will be taught.


Amen brother! This is my desire even at the primary level. In my department, a bunch of different level kids are all thrown in together in first grade. When I speak to the school about having leveled classrooms/instruction, they claim the parents would not approve (I suspect some of the parents of the very low level may not approve). But when I actually talk to parents about this, they seem eager to have this done. It's very difficult to put together good lessons when half the class can't follow and then get bored and restless.

Finally, last year the school did start to have one leveled class per day at one grade level as a trial. It was moderately successful. This year they are trying a couple more at different grade levels.

Some students have an aptitude for learning a foreign language, some don't. Some students have a desire to learn a foreign language, some don't. Some students (especially at the college level) have a need to learn a foreign language, some don't.

I'm not saying we still shouldn't try with lower-leveled students at the primary age; I'm just suggesting that maybe after, say, 3rd grade, each student should be guided down a different path based on the skills and interest they have shown so far.

My school has a lot of different programs. I suggested we add another one called "English Light" (or something along these lines). The students who are in these classes would get two lessons a day in English - - generally spoken English, Phonics, grammar. While those that continue with the international department would get their four lessons a day in English, Math, Science, Geography, etc. I mean, if a kid can't (or won't!) understand English, he can't very well understand English Math or Science.
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dean_a_jones



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 1140
Location: Wuhan, China

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is very much the common problem here, which applies on so many different levels--quantity over quality. I don't really understand why engineering students have to pass English to get a degree. Then again, it seems as pointless as MA students needing to pass that "Marxism" course to get their diploma in mathematics or whatever.

You make people endlessly jump though hoops to get what they want, you end up with a circus and a bunch of clowns.
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Shroob



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 1338

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dean_a_jones wrote:
It is very much the common problem here, which applies on so many different levels--quantity over quality. I don't really understand why engineering students have to pass English to get a degree. Then again, it seems as pointless as MA students needing to pass that "Marxism" course to get their diploma in mathematics or whatever.

You make people endlessly jump though hoops to get what they want, you end up with a circus and a bunch of clowns.


My uni also has a tai chi exam as well.

The look of envy/wonder on my students face when I explain that I didn't have to take any classes not relevant to my degree to graduate from uni.
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GeminiTiger



Joined: 15 Oct 2004
Posts: 999
Location: China, 2005--Present

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just another brick in the wall of the eduMCation system here. The idea that an entire class of 40 students should spend the whole day in the same class learning the same subjects at the same level for k-12 AND university is possibly the most appalling feature of their system.
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choudoufu



Joined: 25 May 2010
Posts: 3325
Location: Mao-berry, PRC

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shroob wrote:

The look of envy/wonder on my students face when I explain that I didn't have to take any classes not relevant to my degree to graduate from uni.


the standard format for a 4-year degree in the usa requires 120 credits,
only 30 of which are relevant to the major.
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kungfuman



Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 1442
Location: In My Own Private Idaho

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My class of 11 high school students all speak English. Their biggest problem is getting them to speak loud enough so I can hear them.
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MisterButtkins



Joined: 03 Oct 2009
Posts: 1215

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

The look of envy/wonder on my students face when I explain that I didn't have to take any classes not relevant to my degree to graduate from uni.


Where did you go to school? Like someone else posted, my degree had I think 36 hours of material for my actual major and 90 or so hours for other things. We had to take all sorts of extra classes: foreign language, government, history, basic science, some mathematics, and more.

In comparison, the course load for English majors where I work seems to be 2/3 English.
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Shroob



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 1338

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MisterButtkins wrote:
Quote:

The look of envy/wonder on my students face when I explain that I didn't have to take any classes not relevant to my degree to graduate from uni.


Where did you go to school? Like someone else posted, my degree had I think 36 hours of material for my actual major and 90 or so hours for other things. We had to take all sorts of extra classes: foreign language, government, history, basic science, some mathematics, and more.

In comparison, the course load for English majors where I work seems to be 2/3 English.


I went to university in the U.K. and studied history. Every unit of my course was related to history. It's really surprised me that things are apparently different in America.
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dean_a_jones



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 1140
Location: Wuhan, China

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the UK I took three years of classes and only one (a philosophy course for a semester) was outside of my degree study (literature). That was in the first year (which ultimately doesn't actually count towards your final degree mark anyway) and I could have chosen another literature course in its place if I wanted to.

I think that is pretty normal for university in the UK (or at least was 10 years ago when I attended). We do our general studies before university. In the US, on the other hand, where a national curriculum doesn't exist, general studies are continued at university, at least for the first few years. I thought this was one of the reasons why university lasts longer in the US (I assume they also like that extra income).
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GeminiTiger



Joined: 15 Oct 2004
Posts: 999
Location: China, 2005--Present

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

American Universities generally use what is called the Liberal Art curriculum. In the states people who only study one subject are 'technical students' who get 2 or 3 year diplomas. I personally am very thankful for the liberal arts style as it gave me a lot of clues in different directions of thinking.
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fat_chris



Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Posts: 3135

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dean_a_jones wrote:
You make people endlessly jump though hoops to get what they want, you end up with a circus and a bunch of clowns.


Quote of the day. +1

Cool

Warm regards,
fat_chris
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youtalkingtome



Joined: 19 Aug 2012
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RPMcMurphy wrote:


They don't want it, they don't need it yet, every year, Jumbo loads of unqualified native [English] speaking teachers [NESTs] are brought in. English majors are the only ones who require NESTs, and those should be appropriately qualified in TESOL; post-graduate qualified that is! And of course, unless they are paid Western salaries, they will be hard to find.
!


The last part says it all. Before demanding higher qualifications, schools need to increase professional standards and conditions while at the same time increasing salaries.

It's quite simple, if you want the cheapest product, then generally the quality of the product isn't good.
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MisterButtkins



Joined: 03 Oct 2009
Posts: 1215

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
There's no evidence that NESTs produce graduates with a better standard of English than NNESTs


Kind of a moot point from the point of view of Chinese university administrators. Ultimately, Chinese unis are not about education. All the students pass everything and a diploma does not signify anything other than the student paying 4 years of tuition. Sure, maybe the top 50 or 100 schools have something resembling standards, but the majority of Chinese universities (ie, >90% of them, once you throw out the top 100) are degree mills. In this environment, TESOL qualifications are not really important, since the foreign teacher's presence is just a tool to justify higher tuition fees.

I'm just saying that I wouldn't expect a change any time soon. If higher requirements do come, they will have to come from the central government and the central government will need to be serious about enforcing them. Even if that happens, I still don't think there will ever be enough qualified foreign teachers coming to China to fill out more than the top tier of universities.
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