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Encouraging Trends in Chinese Education

Popularity 2Viewed 13045 times 2018-6-25 06:15 |Personal category:Education|System category:News

I am highly encouraged as I read reports about changing teaching/learning methods across China. I just read the story here on CD about the support of using play in educating children. (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201806/24/WS5b2f0568a3103349141de6d2.html) The story was specifically written about the use of Legos building blocks in teaching kindergarteners. (Another very interesting story you might want to read is of a professor, Huang Chao, teaching anatomy at Sichuan Agricultural University using emojis. Very innovative. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201804/03/WS5ac322f9a3105cdcf6516002.html)

I am also encouraged that not just coastal and possibly more advanced cities, like Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, are these methods being used, but, here in Henan, I see it happening as well. In seven years of teaching in Henan, I see a change in teachers' and parents' understanding about education. I also see them opening up to a higher quality of education for their students and children.

My focus in education is obviously English education.

I just reread the book by 'Annie's mom', a lady from mainland China who immigrated to Canada and developed a complete new understanding about teaching English. Her methods and understanding have become quite popular in the more advanced innovative teaching environments in China. Of course, as you've likely read in my previous blogs, I realized that the quality of English education could be so much better after I came here in 2011.

The problems that I observed in English education are as follows.  (1) Students couldn't speak English beyond "Hi, how are you? I'm fine thank you and you?" I observed this first hand in high schools and colleges were I've taught. (2) Students who could speak a bit more English would commonly make pronunciation mistakes. I completely understood this problem because most of them had little chance of speaking English other than recitations in school. (3) Though there is an inordinate focus on English grammar rules in Chinese English training schools, I still found that students made primary errors in grammar. (4) I noticed a huge problem with spelling and little knowledge of English punctuation.

What was really heart-breaking to me was when I saw how hard Chinese students worked and struggled to learn English, yet, they still came up short. Many who had studied English for 8-9 years and were still making these same errors as I've listed above.

What is encouraging to me (and gives me the resolve to continue teaching in China) is seeing the attitudes toward English education advancing so quickly. It seems that the younger teachers who have been in the profession for 5 years of less, are the ones that are making these changes in the classroom. I've also found that about 94-97% of parents that I've encountered, know that they need more for their child in English education and are committed to see that their kids get an advantage. Very encouraging indeed.

I recently spoke to one of my students who is leaving soon to attend a high school in Europe. When I asked her the question, "What would you change about your present school if you could?', she said, "I think my school is like most other schools. I wouldn't change just my school. I would change the thinking ways about education throughout China." I shared with her, that the fact, 'thinking ways about education' is changing in China. Not just in the larger metropolitan areas I mentioned earlier, but, right in Henan, in the heart of China.

I'm excited about it. More than I've ever been. My goal and the goal of most Chinese English teachers that I communicate with regularly, is simple. In English education, students can gain conversational fluency by the time that they start high school. They must be taught well when they are primary school students in order to achieve this goal. A strong, proper foundation in phonics will solve most if not all of the problems I've mentioned here. It IS achievable.

I've been teaching students with these methods for seven years here in Henan. I've been amazed at the results. Several of my students have gone on to acceptance and attendance in world class universities. They have achieved beyond my own imagination. (If anyone had asked me in 2011 where I'd be in 2018, I would have never said 'China.' Nonetheless, I am still here with no plans to leave. )

I will continue my quest in investing much of my life's work in Chinese students. I believe that I can do at least something to help China build a brighter and more prosperous future for its children.

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


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Reply Report 财神 2018-6-26 15:08
Well done Michael! you are still rocking here!

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MichaelM

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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Recent comments

  • Why English Is So Hard 2019-7-15 22:39

    Yes, the serious exam system has made Chinese education go in a strange way which has wasted too much for the nation!  Our physical education program should make ordinary kids become healthier and stronger rather than prepare thousands of athletes for few champion gold medals! All subjects ought to train children to do independent thinking with their own head instead of repeating others' sayings without one-word-changing!
    (A long time ago, I posted one blog (or thread)titled ‘We should learn English as kids’ .)

  • Why Foreigners Can't Teach Gaokao English 2019-7-14 23:25

    "The school I work at tells me to concentrate on pronunciation and oral speaking skills only, the students will get grammar lessons from their respective State schools.  What's the use of proper pronunciation if they can't construct a correct sentence?"

    This, right here, is the reason I gave up after 11 years. I could not justify punishing myself and pulling out my own hair any longer. I was tired of hearing the excuse, "This is China. We do things differently, here". Just play games, sing songs, and get them to talk (in a university environment). Foreign teachers are a laughingstock, in China. Everyone knows they are only there to put a white face on the school, and to justify charging exorbitant fees to the parents. Those who WANT to learn, will. The majority however, are only there because they HAVE to be there. If they don't pass, they don't get their Bachelor's Degree. That's the only reason they are in that classroom. Yes, this sounds like a negative post ... but it's the TRUTH.

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