Austin Lau

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China: English may be canceled in college entrance exam in several years.

There is a hot topic in China these days: English may be canceled in college entrance exam.
It has been determined that English is not as important as it used to be in Entrance. Many provinces in China has proposed the policy to low the percentage English takes in the Entrance. Some of them even tends to cancel it.
For me, it's really hard to accept the policy. Cos I think nowadays, English is of great importance everywhere. It's an international language. I just cannot image how can Chinese next generation live without English. They cannot communicate with foreigners, they cannot keep up with the pace of globalization. How can China develop without English?
Reform is necessary for Entrance, but China shouldn't kill English completely. Do you have any ideas about it?

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    Dec 11 2013: "… Chinese government has just stopped requiring Chinese students to learn English…"
    I feel ambivalent and neither is positive. If they've truly rejected english for educational purposes, then there is nothing that can be done. If multi-linguality is not an educational priority, so be it. If the've chosen to do so because they believe to have the global language already, then it is even more worrisome. Two global superpowers preaching the one true language?… will not end well. Besides it's not like America has made a point of learning new languages to bridge cultural differences.

    That was an excerpt from a question posted on TED Convo:

    "...It has been determined that English is not as important as it used to be…"
    This is very interesting. What gives a language importance?I propose, English has grown to be a powerful language because of America's ascent to the top of the global economy. Because of the domination of the dollar , during the first world war, English became a commodity and has remained so ever since. Economic power will always switch hands ( as we've seen throughout human history-Notice the change of authors-) but this alone must not be the reason why we choose to assignate importance to a language. The true purpose of language is convey information effectively and efficiently, so which is more important, uniting humanity under one language( as ominous as it sounds) or bicker over which language will it be? consider future generations as well.
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      Dec 13 2013: What is English? It's a language. What's is language? It's a tool for us to communicate with others but not a standard. I really appreciate your opinion. And I agree your idea that every language is equal. We cannot say which one is more important to others. However, relatively speaking, English and Chinese are more important to other languages under such an educational system in China. I'm so sorry to say that. Under the system, students are force to learn something even they don't like, not only English. In my opinion, the government can have a better way to deal with it, but not only on English.
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    Dec 11 2013: Whatever your country decides to test on the entrance exam, I think it is smart for you to continue to study your English seriously. You sometimes need to make your own judgment of what will give you the most interesting future. Do not let testing policies do that for you.
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      Dec 11 2013: I'll continue studying English. To be honest, I'm an undergraduate now, entrance exam is none of my business. I just think this policy really will bring some big effects to China.
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        Dec 11 2013: I wonder whether there is actually a different motive for the idea.

        For example, might the country or province think of it as a strategy to prevent top students from seeking undergraduate, graduate, professional, and post-doctoral opportunities in the United States and Canada? I have close friends at both MIT and Berkeley, for example, and I know their science departments now have a large number of excellent students and post docs from China who would not have gotten those opportunities had they not been able to pass basic English qualifying tests.
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          Dec 13 2013: Well, the motivation of this policy is to alleviate burdens on students. Now many students in China study English passively. They learn it for the sake of exam. This policy is to change such a situation. But we must know that the key point of this phenomenon lays in the educational system but not English. So, I daresay there will be a better way to solve this problem.
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    Dec 24 2013: English is somewhat the most reliable bridge present to connect our different countries, cultures, and languages. However, I disagree if you would say such thing as China cannot develop without English. English is simply the most convenient language to refer to in international communications - it is simpler than Chinese (although Chinese grammar is actually simple, the pronunciation and the writing system is a huge hurdle), it is simpler than most European languages with male, female, and neutral genders which are hard to rationalized. And it's already worldwide.

    How can China develop without English? You can learn French, German, Arabic, and many other languages where transfer of knowledge can still take place. Or more people can learn Chinese.

    With that, I'm not saying that I agree with a policy excluding English from the college entrance exam in China. I'm not against the idea either. I'm not expert enough to answer how it will impact the future generation.

    What I agree is that, if one would have no practical use of English in either their education or future career, should you actually judge their eligibility to enter the higher education institutes based on their English scores? One who is studying Chinese traditional medicine, for instance, the English subject bears no relevance to them.

    I think I would advocate the idea to further diversify college entrance system, instead of a generic exam that we have at the moment.
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    Dec 23 2013: How many English speaking countries have to sit Chinese in college entrance exams?
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    K H

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    Dec 16 2013: Foreign language should be required as part of the curriculum. I think China should give its students a choice as to which language they would like to study. Some students may want to study or eventually travel to a country that utilizes another language besides English, in which case knowing the language native to that country would be more useful. However, English is currently the language that is most widely understood, so it is still beneficial to learn if one is considering extensive travel. The more languages and cultures one is exposed to, the better that individual will come to understanding the world.
  • Dec 13 2013: I agree with many postings here that to "cancel" the requirement of proficiency in English language does not mean that the universities discourage the study of English, either before the entrance or after their entering into the universities. It's just for applicants who don't have to be restricted or bound by the ENGLISH PROFICIENCY, AS AN OBSTACLE, IN GETTING ADMITTED, AS A REQUIREMENT, TO STUDY IN SOME "MAJORS" IN AREAS SUCH AS CHINESE LITERATURE, EDUCATION OR EVEN POLITICAL SCIENCES.
    Yes, there are no compulsory requirement in high schools in the U. S. to study a second language, but, nowadays, some schools do encourage students to take Spanish, even few of them, Chinese, on the voluntary basis as the so-called selective course.
    However, there are requirement in the postgraduate schools that if a student tries to get a PhD degree, he must pass a "second language" as a requirement. That seems to be reasonable, because if a PhD candidate wanted to do research in many fields of interest , some foreign language would be helpful for his study. So this is a sound policy which is quite applicable to college student, in the field of science or engineering, in Chinese university to be proficient in English.
    In fact, when I was working toward a doctoral degree in public health, at the time when the requirement of a second language came up, I chose French as the language for the test (even though I could easily satisfy the requirement using Chinese as my 2nd language) because in the field of public health, French is probably more useful than Chinese in my future research.
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    Dec 11 2013: English is the lingua franca of our time, and it will most likely be the last lingua franca. I view this as an attempt to keep you isolated and unknowing of the rest of the world.
    Bilingualism is very good for people, for instance people who are bilingual have an average of 10% higher IQ then those who only speak one language.
  • Dec 24 2013: The facts have been proven:Learning English for exams wouldn't help any.Every language deserves us to learn,but now English is the most beneficial language for us to learn.I think canceled English exams or not it won't affect me to motivate my kid to learn English well.
  • Dec 23 2013: English is the top one; the first language which everyone tends to learn it. Frankly speaking, nowadays most of the parents in Asia are willing to make their children learn English first or make their children study abroad rather than learning their mother tongue, literally where they are born and where their parents are from. Even though Chinese is as wonderful as English and many people say that China will now be the top one country, I believe that learning English is needed for many people around the world, for a fluent and easy communication with people around the world. Studying both English and Chinese is suggested.
  • Dec 21 2013: It's a good thing, it's a bad thing, it's a despicable thing.

    To allow people into university who may not have otherwise been able to go, due to their ability in English is for that student a positive thing.

    Not learning English in the world today, is one that will cut people off from understanding, it will and does make a country more xenophobic and isolated (with the exception of a certain few people).

    Maybe it's being done to disenfranchise the population from learning and understanding what's out there in the world. Why block websites, when technology, that can and does allow those restrictions to get bypassed. When all you have to do is disengage the population from them by the language they use. When people don't know or can't read, can't hear, can't understand - what's on them, what difference does it make if they can access it?
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    Dec 16 2013: I think that kill English from college entrance exam might not be a bad thing. Most people born in 70's and 80's have learned English in high school and college in order to pass exams, but I bet that most of those people now know nothing about English but that English has 26 alphabets. Moreover, kill English from entrance exam is not equal to stop learning English. In fact, there may be many people more interested in studying English if they are not forced to study it for exams. A week ago I watched a interview by Bai Yansong and he said that according to a research, almost 80 percent of people will have more interest in studying English if it is killed from exams.
  • Dec 16 2013: I'm sure waiting wouldn't do anything, we should bring the day ourselves !! :)
  • Dec 14 2013: i don't know Chinese but i know it's definitely much more harder than English and cant kill it completely, these days these kinds of communications makes people to learn English so it's really not fare to force people to learn another foreign language as an international one! i live in Iran and during school time i always nagged for bad school English teachers,i believed everyone need to learn it perfectly...i just shocked when i read the topic..! you are right globalization is inevitable...
    i hope every decision will be made for better future....!
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      Dec 16 2013: I can't agree more! And I'm waiting for the day when the policy be made for better.
  • Dec 13 2013: Just because it is removed from the college entrance exam does not mean it is not important and can be studied before, during, and after college.
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      Dec 16 2013: Exactly.
      However, I think it may be more difficult to learn English than ever before.
      • Dec 16 2013: It is always harder to learn a language that does not share the same derivation. i.e. Say someone who speaks English trying to learn Chinese or Japanese.
  • Dec 13 2013: Hi Austin
    I’m surprised to hear that English would no longer be important in ‘college entrance exam’ in China. I heard that for many years Chinese college students studied English hard to enter/ or graduate from the college.
    One of my Chinese friends is a Ningboren.
    She speaks English so well. And I think it helps her to communicate with others in different countries.
    I think we should never ignore the importance of learning English no matter how well we know about other things…
    It’s not just for an academic purpose; but for connecting with people all around the world, right?
    English is ‘zeiga’ important!
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      Dec 16 2013: I'm so surprised to see "zeiga" here! You know the dialect of Ningbo well! It's so kind of you.
      Well, the decision should be considered again I think. The government want to reduce students' burdens, but the are in wrong direction I think. Anyway, I'll keep on learning English.
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    Dec 12 2013: Here's the link for English report:
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    Dec 12 2013: What I have heard is English score won't be added to the university entrance exam score. Students still need English grades instead of score to enter the university with relevant English bottom line.It won't stop people learning English at all. It's to reduce the studying burden for the students. Many people know how important English is for their future as you do. If they want to learn more things to have a bright future, they should learn English in order to improve their ability to use it , not for the score. They still can enhance their English in their university if they're interested in it. I think interest can drive people to learn fast. And on the other side, some people think this policy can make English study more important and won't reduce the burden because without an eligible English grade, even if you have got a high score in the university entrance exam, you won't be qualified to enter your university.

    So don't worry, English study will continue to be popular in China.
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      Dec 13 2013: I hope so. But I daresay parents, students, even teachers, they will pay more attention to Chinese, math ,etc. Cos they are still in the entrance. Thus, English may face an absent treatment. However, it's still hard to say currently. Time will tell.
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        Dec 17 2013: I am surprised you feel so upset about the change in positioning English in Gaokao. I think language is just a tool for people to communicate and learn different things. Chinese is our native language that we must learn it well to be an authentic Chinese. These years English has already been viewed more important than Chinese and some young people even can't write some simple Chinese characters correctly( Many Shanghai kids can't speak Shanghainese either). And more and more people have appealed to the renascence of traditional Chinese culture and more Chinese study. As some people have pointed out, Chinese isn't a very simple language to learn, but if one day we find Chinese become another global language, I think it'll be an advantage for us. We can spare time to learn more things instead of English. But at that time, I think China will already have been strong enough in all kinds of fields and Chinese learning tools will have been much more advanced and simpler. Being strong doesn't only rely on language learning.And another point is if you can't learn your own language well, how can you study a foreign laguage well? I think they have a lot in common.

        The most obvious is that this is a global informational society, many Chinese students choose to study abroad when they grow up, they have more motivations and chances/tools to learn English and other foreign languages than before. They have a true feeling from their surroundings that English is useful and significant in this world. They will be pushed to study a language by this world trend too.
  • Dec 11 2013: Well, I believe English is not completely avoided in the entrance exam. Only the extra importance given to the language is recognized by the Chinese policy and laid less focus on it. So, its nothing to worry about. And I hope giving stress on English in entrance exam is not the factor that necessitates its learning among learners. If English is essential, even if it is given less importance in entrance exam, is not going to affect the language learning. Ie, if learners understand its importance, they will try to learn it by any means.
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      Dec 13 2013: I hope so. I hope one day students can learn what they are willing to. And I will keep on learning English.
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    Dec 11 2013: Well, it doesn't mean to kill English completely. All is depent on you. You choose to learn English or not. The reality in some majors is they don't need English in their future. But it isn't lack of people who's not English major still care about English. The good part is we will find more peolpe who are willing to learn English rather than forced to learn,
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      Dec 11 2013: I just remember the aim of our education: face the whole world, face the globalization. But without English, how can we achieve it? What's more, the concept of English will be weakened if it is canceled in entrance. So the people who intreseted in it will be fewer and fewer. How can we find more?
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        Dec 11 2013: It doesn't mean fewer and fewer people will be interested in English. Actually, some of my classmates in highschool either see learning it as a waste of time or have no talent in learning foreign language. They are pain. We can't judge whether it good or not. Different people have different choice. What I hate in Chinese education is that you have to learn things you don't like. Don't take the policy so serious. I'm glad the keys are in our hands now. Your choice to open it or not. People who do care about English still exist.
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          Dec 13 2013: Yeah I agree with you. We are common in the view that the key point of this problem lays in the educational system. Not only English, but also other courses like math(I really HATE math!!), we are forced to learn them, for the sake of exam. So, I think the government do need a better way to change it. English itself is innocent and it is just a scapegoat.
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    Dec 11 2013: I don't know. For most people, isn't life kind of local, centered on wherever they are and going out maybe two miles? Most people are not international businesspeople. Therefore don't they only need the local language?
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      Dec 11 2013: I see it. But English is not for interntional businessmen only. English mentions a lot of fields, and many of them is related to the developing of China.
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        Dec 11 2013: Well, Austin, if a person is not an international businessperson, why would they need something other than the language of their locality?
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          Dec 13 2013: What you said is true actually. But I think the basic English is necessary for everyone. We Chinese cannot reject English now. If you have a chance to come here, you will see English is everywhere around you.
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        Dec 13 2013: When you say everywhere around you, what do you mean?

        But really, for the average person who only does business locally, why do they need it? Maybe you could make it a requirement for people studying business who expect to do business with Americans? But you sort of think they would realize they need it and study it themselves without being required?