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English in China
G'day guys, just found this site and came across the topic..|
As a Lao Wai, Lao Gong, Jia gei le wo I wish to give my thoughts on the topic.
I am Australian, I have lived in Canada and I came to China 3 times before making the move here
permanently. What I have found in China differs greatly from city to city - Province to Province.
On my wedding day a close friend of my (Chinese) wife brought along an English Teacher from
Zhengzhou University to translate the Chinese into English for me. Great idea I thought as my wife
would be busy and not able to help me as she normally does when I become lost in the fast paced
Chinese. What happened was a total surprise. My wife had to step in and help me out understanding
the English from our supplied 'translater'.
When this first happened I was at a loss to understand. But now after talking with many students and
Chinese Teachers I have more of an understanding.
As noted by many other people in this post, many students in China are never given the oppurtunity to
talk with a 'western person'. Yes, they study from English books and listen to tapes or cd's to help
them but this is not the same as actually learning from people who speak English in their sleep!
A close friend of mine is the head English Teacher at the Medical University. He is Chinese and I have
never seen anybody try to read as many western books etc, as he does in his attempts to learn more
English and thus pass on better education to his students. But when my wife first introduced us, we
spoke for approximately 3 or 4 minutes before he stopped talking. I think inside he came to a sudden
understanding that his English was not good enough.
**After many months of talking between us, he has improved greatly.
I was asked by friends to attend a local College and talk with students learning English for several
lessons. I was informed that my wife would not have to attend with me as they all understood English.
Well, my wife did go with me and lucky for me. We both ended up talking with the students. Firstly, I
spoke very slow English and then she spoke Chinese for all the students who could not catch what I was
saying. Of the 200 or so students we had in the room, in all honesty I think 20 or 30 actually listened to
me and took it all in. The remainder had a total look of shock/horror on their faces. Could this really be
I was asked to attend another College for a position as an English Teacher. (Yet again, another friend
of my wife - but she was a reporter for the city radio station and has many friends) Of the 20
Chinese-English Teachers I spoke with on the day, 6 or 7 felt comfortable enough to try talking with me.
Shock for me when I found out 3 of the teachers could not speak English. They used tapes to explain
what to do for the students and spoke Chinese to clarify any matters.
Nearly all of the people I have come to know in China have the same problem. They have a very good
mental memory of English words, they can write English well if given the time........ But their verbal skills
are nearly missing all together.
In my local area, each Saturday my wife and I hold an 'English Corner' for any person who wishes to
attend. Many parents like to come and listen to their children speak English and converse with us.
And I feel that this is the answer, if Chinese students are given the chance to actually speak English
with a western person, their verbal skills increase quickly. Many find out that what they are taught at
school is enough to pass the end of year test but not enough to communicate with. They need to learn
themselves that they do not need their English book with them to talk. They simply need more time
remembering all those words they have inside and be given a chance to put a sentence together.
With my students, everyday I pass around a copy of 'China Daily' and have the students take it in turns
to read the articles. If they are given a chance to read something of interest to them, this can be so much
fun for all involved (even other teachers wishing to practice)
I love these people, most are very friendly and happy people.
Am I a teacher by profession??? No, but I am willing to try and help my new friends as much as I can.
For any students needing some help in English: firstname.lastname@example.org