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We need to revolutionize Chinese studying habits

Popularity 4Viewed 8257 times 2016-5-23 10:01 |System category:News| need, revolutionize, Chinese, studying, habits

On my way to class, I watched some students pacing back and forth while repeatedly reciting English words in an attempt to memorize their spelling. I could not resist the temptation to stop and ask few of them about the objectives that they wish to achieve from that trivial exercise.


They indicated that they wanted to learn the English words by heart. Their answer led me to ask them about the success of their previous attempts.


After an instance of silence, they were honest enough to state that they forgot the words that they learned during the previous days.


To investigate further, I asked them to use any of the words that they were reciting in concise, coherent and comprehensible sentences. Unfortunately, they had a hard time coming up grammatically correct and logical sentences. Needless to say, I left them overwhelmed with a feeling sorrow blended with empathy and sympathy toward them.


I discussed the dilemma of being unable to come up with an effective strategy to study any language in general and English in particular, with my students. Discovering that it is common phenomenon among Chinese students, I decided to write this article to help them as well as other students in their struggle through the tedious task of mastering a foreign language..


My logic led to realize that we need to revolutionize the studying habits of our Chinese students. One may ask about the essentiality of that task and the means to accomplish it.


It is a common knowledge that Chinese students lead unbalanced lifestyles due to the lack of time. However, they waste a great deal of their time engaging in useless exercises of attempting to memorize their courses.

Devising an effective strategy to organize their studying habits will, for certain, permits them the opportunity to use their time efficiently. That may lead them to having few hours each day to enjoy other activities and subsequently, acquiring less hatred toward the learning experience.


As for accomplishing the task of revolutionizing their studying habits, according to pedagogic and educational experts, human beings have four learning facilities, speech, sight, hearing and dexterity. Each one of them has its own function.


Speech is used to orally communicate our ideas and needs to others. Sight helps us to recognize and read written material, Hearing allows us to listen to and to be familiar with the spoken words. Finally, dexterity guides us toward finding the proper words to write down or the right keys to press on the keyboards.


Using all of them in studying would facilitate the learning process. To accomplish that, the students should divide an English word into syllables. Then they must recite each syllable loud while spelling it.

To reinforce the knowledge, they should find other words that have syllables with the same sound. Subsequently, the students ought to write the words down. Finally, they use all the words they acquired in sentences of their own.


According to neurologists and scholars, the human brain is divided into two sections, temporary and permanent parts. When a person learns a new word, it is stored in the temporary section. If it is used within a reasonably short time, it is moved to the permanent section. Otherwise, it will be deleted or erased from the temporary section to make room for new words.


Consequently, students must use the words they learn immediately in order to ensure having them stored in the permanent sections of their brains. Of courses, information in the permanent section will be accessible when they are needed.


The latest advanced in science indicated that human beings are unable to focus for a long time due to the complexity of nowadays lifestyles. Therefore, students should organize their studying schedules to allocate reasonable time for each subject without spending hours on one topic or a single learning task.  


Teachers must take the time to help their students with the task of organizing their studying habits. At the beginning of each term, they need to provide their students with guidelines of how to study efficiently to avoid wasting invaluable time on futile exercises of attempting to memorize a subject of interest..

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




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Comment Comment (12 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2016-5-24 11:25
Thank you very much!!! we have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report voice_cd 2016-5-24 11:25
Thank you very much!!! we have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report Sava 2016-5-24 13:12
voice_cd: Thank you very much!!! we have highlighted your blog.
Thanks. Have a delightful day!
Reply Report MichaelM 2016-5-24 15:19
I spoke to several Chinese parents about this very subject last night giving the same instruction to them.
Reply Report BlondeAmber 2016-5-24 20:56
MichaelM: I spoke to several Chinese parents about this very subject last night giving the same instruction to them.
The President of the Foreign Languages department where I worked last year gave a speech to the effect that the students should memorise lists of words in order to improve.

I nearly laughed out loud at this 19th century attitude.#

There is very little understanding of current Learning Theories and how best to learn and improve languages, and I was harassed when I tried to instigate changes to a more holistic approach to language learning.
Reply Report MichaelM 2016-5-25 07:28
Part of the problem is the closed-mindedness to anything different. As stated, people in America would have likely responded the same way 60 years ago. Understanding this is crucial to being able to help them make change.
Reply Report MichaelM 2016-5-25 07:30
I read recently, 'China is 5,000 years old and still a developing country.' They change very, very, very, very slooooooowly.  
Reply Report BlondeAmber 2016-5-25 20:55
China does not want to hear from foreigners on how to improve anything.
For the most part, FT's are not even allowed teach, even if they are professionals in their home countries.
All you do, and all any of us do who try to make any changes, is encourage further resentment towards FT's.

there are many learning theories that any professional can apply to improve the learning experience for all, but CHINA DOES NOT WANT TO KNOW, preferring to be stuck in the 19th century.
Reply Report Swifty55 2016-7-20 20:28
Wow it is very nice read about what I have been trying to get my Chinese students to undertsand each semester. This almost word for word what I preach to them everyday.
Reply Report Swifty55 2016-7-20 20:32
BlondeAmber: China does not want to hear from foreigners on how to improve anything.
For the most part, FT's are not even allowed teach, even if they are professio ...
The fact is that a certified teachers from another country is respected and I know for my students use my methods and learn. The ones that think like you that I have continue to fail each semsester. Wonder why??
Reply Report BlondeAmber 2016-7-20 21:35
Swifty55: The fact is that a certified teachers from another country is respected and I know for my students use my methods and learn. The ones that think like  ...
Chinese teachers in many schools undermine professionals like myself because they are threatened by having their poor standards of teaching exposed - it causes them to lose face, especially when many of the Chinese English teachers themselves in Middle and High school can barely speak the language - I have met them.

Is it my fault that the University students I have to teach arrive with me unable to construct a sentence in English after 8 years of learning?

Learning a language can not be done by rote, as is the norm for most Chinese schools.
I even agreed with the OP that forcing students to learn lists of words is counter-productive, but then you probably didn't read that comment.

Thankfully my home university supports my efforts to bring Chinese English language learning into the 21st century, and I have achieved success, producing confident English speakers through a blended approach in the class-room.
However, every September I am faced with the same challenge again with each new intake of Freshman students.

The original problem is not in the FT's, but in the entire approach to teaching English by the Chinese teachers and the lack of understanding of current learning theories.
Reply Report Swifty55 2016-7-22 15:51
I agree with what you say.Like you I have support of My University. Most Chinese English teachers I have met which is in the 100"s teach English but can not speak to me when i visit their High School or middle school. Even most at the University can not carry on a converstation with me unless I speak to them in Chinese.

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