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Learning English again debated in China

As reported in the Global Times, the importance – or not – of Chinese children learning English at school is once again in the firing line. 

On the ‘keep it on the curriculum’ side is China’s Ministry of Education (MoE), which has stated that learning foreign languages (for which read English) is important for the development of children’s knowledge of the wider world and to gain ‘cross-cultural communication skills’.

However, a deputy in the National People’s Congress, China’s legislative body, has said that the time used to teach foreign languages could be better spent “…exposing children to more Chinese culture at a critical time in the formation of their worldview, and increasing their cultural pride and confidence from an early age”.

The MoE has countered that children currently spend only 6-8% of their school time learning a foreign language, which is considerably less than the 10-11% spent on physical education, the 13-15% spent on maths or the 20-22% on Chinese. Further, that the teaching of traditional Chinese culture has always been important to the MoE.

Chu Zhaohui, a research fellow at the National Institute of Education Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday, “If the ‘English is useless’ claim is widely promoted in society, the first to suffer will be children in rural areas. Predictably, if the importance of English is no longer emphasised, parents in big cities will not give up on their children learning English, and children in rural areas are more likely to lose out.”

Image courtesy of Naomi Shi from Pexels
Liz Granirer
Liz Granirer
Liz has been a journalist for many years. She is currently editor of EL Gazette and has previously edited the magazines Young Performer, StepForward and Accounting Technician; been deputy editor on Right Start magazine; chief sub editor on Country Homes & Interiors; and sub editor on easyJet Traveller, Lonely Planet and Family Traveller magazines, along with a number of others.
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