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Avoid This Kind of English Training

Popularity 1Viewed 3333 times 2017-10-29 16:28 |System category:News

There is no shortage of educational training centers in every city in China. I know, that here in Zhengzhou, there are several on nearly every block. There are good ones and ones that aren't so good. 

During my walks every day, I pass English training centers. What's interesting to me is when I stop outside to listen to the class and I hear almost no English being spoken.

When I was in college (several decades ago), I took Spanish. I was required to take it to earn my liberal arts degree at my university. Dr. Kelly was the instructor. I remember the first day of class those many years ago. He told us what to expect from the class. He gave a detailed plan of what would happen during the first 3 weeks.

He let us know that for those first three weeks, he would teach us basic classroom instructions in Spanish. After that, the only English that would be spoken in the class would be to translate new words. Otherwise, there would be no English spoken during the class.

Language immersion is what is most commonly taught in the USA's high schools and colleges. Of course, it is the best kind of instruction that you can get for learning a language. 

My main assistant's sister, recently, just got her drivers' license here in China. I asked her about the classroom instruction for learning to drive. She said that she had no classroom instruction. The rules, laws, parts of the car, traffic signs, traffic signals and all other information related to driving, was to be learned as homework. Most students had an APP to teach them those things. So, I asked her, "What did you need the school for?" She said, "Well, at the school, you drive a car every day."

English learning in China has consisted of several years of studying rules (grammar) in the classroom. Little to no time is spent actually using the language. Almost no time is spent speaking the language. Speaking a language is 90% of any language. We don't write a lot every day. Most people don't read a lot every day. We do talk every day.

I've spoken with several dozen Chinese language teachers in schools here in China. I've not ever spoken to one who taught Chinese grammar. It isn't taught. It is learned, but, not taught. It is learned by speaking the language. One Chinese teacher at Chengdu Normal University told me, "The more you learn speaking Chinese, the better able you'll be to have excellent writing in the future."

Why would anyone think that English is learned any differently than learning Chinese? Why would anyone think that ANY language is different? The fact is, as my college Spanish teacher and most Western teachers know, it isn't any different.

If you are a parent and you don't have your child enrolled in classes where the teacher practices speaking immersion, your child is going to fall behind. They will fall behind in writing and reading. You will spend a lot more money and make it much harder on yourself and especially, your child. My assistant's sister would not be driving a car today if the drivers' learning school she attended had only taught her about rules, laws and other information ABOUT driving a car. The fact is, to learn to drive, you must get in the driver's seat and start driving.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report MichaelM 2018-3-15 05:05
Liononthehunt: A very interesting phenomenon is that most students in Eastern Asian countries, in particular, China, Japan and South Korea have all notoriously under ...
In my experience, what holds back English education in China is that their is no foundation of learning to speak the language. Speaking is fundamental and foundation in language learning. It is rare here in China. I find it interesting that most Chinese primary and secondary schools do not teach Chinese grammar. Yet, they focus 90% or more of their time teaching English learning grammar rules. An effort in futility from my experience of teaching more than 4000 students and thousands more students.

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Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.


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