Author: Caged

Why is English compulsory in China's public schools? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2015-5-26 12:24:05 |Display all floors
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Post time 2015-5-26 16:59:14 |Display all floors
seneca Post time: 2015-5-26 12:31
It seems you have a special interest in  sign language, and that is good as such. But I doubt you ...

Of course it's hard to interest them when it's not even an option. In the US where a sign language can fulfil the second language requirement for high school graduation, some hearing students do choose it. You seem to be expressing a fear that somehow if students are given a choice, they'll all flee English in droves for a sign language, Esperanto, and other languages. I think rather than try to imagine such doomsday scenarios, we should look at the results where the option is actually given.
In the US where American Sign Language can fulfil the second language requirement for high school graduation, the majority still choose a second language, with only some choosing to learn ASL.

In France where students can choose from over 100 languages (though Esperanto and to the best of my knowledge a sign language are not offered among these options), over 90% still choose English.

You might say that if an easy language like Esperanto should be allowed, that people would turn to that in droves. Yet the Hungarian experience dictates otherwise, with Esperanto being in a distant third place in popularity after English in first and German not far behind in second, and French in close fourth place after Esperanto. So clearly even there Esperanto, though popular, has certainly not squeezed English out of existence in the education system.

Though giving more language options might make it easier to make language choice reflect market needs, English is still in more demand than most languages, just that other languages are still in high enough demand that compulsory English skewes the market towards shortages in other languages and unemployed English speakers, which makes it economically irrational.

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Post time 2015-5-26 17:22:51 |Display all floors
seneca Post time: 2015-5-26 12:24
Neither you (I presume) nor I can read Chinese classics; as for Western literature in Chinese cl ...

That really depends on the use to which they apply the language. I remember meeting one Chinese who had memorized a number of Baha'i prayers in English (translated into what I would refer to as neo-archaic literary English), but whose English was poor otherwise. It turned out that she used English most frequently when getting together with English-speaking Baha'is to pray. A Korean woman I'd met could read and understand the King James New Testament because she often read it at a church attended by many English-speakers on Sundays and at home, but whose English was relatively poor otherwise sinse she really had little use for it otherwise outside of that context. I'd met one French-speaking Quebecer with poor English who could read the King James Bible too. I'd also known one Chinese quite a few years ago with relatively poor English but who would participate in poetry recitals in English.
The way I see it, if you are trying to learn and, equally importantly, maintain your English in an environment in which you have few opportunities to use English, perhaps the best strategy is to firstly determine the context in which you could use it regularly, secondly to learn the English you need for that specific context, and thirdly apply it to that context. This is especially important in a trade or profession in which English will be of limited use to you, meaning that you will need to apply it to your private life.

I've come across many textbooks in China teaching students how to hire a taxi, order a meal, or rent a hotel room in English. Honestly, when was the last time you did Snyder of these things in China. Completely useless knowledge you are sure to forget over time.

This is where language choice comes in. If you have a deaf neighbour, you might figure you could learn the local sign language and make a friend for life and then participate in the local deaf culture. If you already imagine a job in which English will be of little use, and would like to learn a second language for use outside of your professional life, Esperanto will probably suffice, quick to learn and slow to forget.

But if you're forced to learn English and see no use for it within the context of the trade or profession you want nor in your private life, the you are sure to fail at it. That's why giving language choice would undoubtedly increase the rate of success in second language learning: the student can choose to learn the language that would be of most use to him according to his personal circumstances rather than based on some theoretical use decided for him by the ministry of education.

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Post time 2015-5-26 17:32:14 |Display all floors
The English language is the world's language of choice for communication in business and politics. The best universities are commonly located in English speaking countries. China is a comparatively new arrival on the international scene so there hasn't been a great incentive to learn Chinese, especially since the English language is considered easier to learn than Chinese by most nationalities. However, those who already speak English might well consider learning Chinese if they want to do business in China as it is a significant market but the Chinese market is not larger that the combined English speaking markets plus those countries who have adopted English for purposes of international communication.
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