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Status Of English Language Education In China English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 4076 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In today world, English language is widely used and the status of the language can viewed differently according to where it is utilized in several parts of the world. In some nations like the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and Australia, English is considered a native language. However, Singapore, Philippine, India, and Malaysia regard English as a second language whereas other countries including Greece, Russia, Poland, Thailand, Vietnam, and others view English a foreign language (Bray Kashrus, 1985, 1992 as cited in Zhang, & Zhang 2008). As the language of communication in numerous fields, both developing and developed countries have adopted and used English language accordingly. China, one of those countries, has accepted and utilized English in diverse domains, so that they may properly develop their country and build more relationships with outside world or vice versa.

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According to Ford, 1988 & Bickers, 1999 as cited in Zhang (2008), English language has entered into China in nineteenth century through trading between China and western nations, and the first country in western nations, which did the trading with China, was Portugal and then British. After China lost in the Opium war to British, Hong Kong was abandoned, and other territories were open for foreigners and traders. During the period, a number of foreigners, especially English people and British mission schools flew into China. Since then, English teaching/learning has gradually become popular for Chinese people.

As stated previously, the object of topic of this literature review is to find out how status of English language is in fields of education, business and economy, and international relationship from 2000 to Present.

II. Literature Review

Status of English language in education in China

Hui (2001, p. 128) expresses that “English is the most widely taught foreign language in China.” In some cities, English is taught from grade 5 and some from grade 3 while in rural places, children in junior and senior high schools are allowed to have English class. In the junior and senior, two types of English books are used in which the first one is called Band 1 and the second is Band 2. According to English Syllabus for Jonior High School, 2000 as cited in Hui (2001), in Band 1, students are encouraged to be familiar with vocabulary, reading, listening, writing, and speaking. In colleges and universities, English is compulsory subject, and students are asked to study through Band 1 to Band 6, and they should complete six specific requirements; for example, familiar 4000 words, acceptable pronunciation and intonation, reading, listening, writing, and speaking (intermediate level).

Similarly, according to Zhongshi & Yu (2003), English language is considered one of the needed languages in Chinese educational system. In 2001, the ministry of education of China announced that English shoud be taught from lower level to higher one. In the lower class, all children from grade three are instructed English language so that they may develop their English ability before they go to higher education. The ministry further declared that for universities and collegues, English has to be used as a medium of instruction for several subjects such as information technology, biotechnology, finance, foreign trade, economics and law because these subjects have interrelation with English language. Due to this plan, provincial education commissions accordingly start to set up schedules for teaching English in many universties and collegues in cities (South China Morning Post, 2001 as cited in Zhongshi & Yu, 2003). To facilitate English teaching/learning, the materials including textbooks, classroom facilities, and

testing centers are gradually developed in order that both teachers and students may find it easy to use them in their study because they are created locally (People’s Daily Online as cited in Zhongshi & Yu, 2003). Additionally, in the period, not only publish schools promote English but private schools also help encourage Chinese students to study English.

Equally, according to a study by Zhiwei (2007), in order to help modernize the country, ministry of Education of China has strenghtened the English language teaching/learning through primary school to university level. In primary level, English is taught since third grade; in middle school, it is instructed as a main subject as other subjects such as Chinese language and mathematics while at university level, all students are required to learn English. To build up Chinese teachers’ ability in English, the ministry of Education has sent them to English speaking countries like the United States and the United Kingdom to have more trainings in English as well as to invite the native English teachers to share their knowledge and experiences to Chinese teachers and students. In addition, the ministry has as well promoted researchers to conduct more studies to explore more effective language teaching/learning strategies. Zhiwei (2007) states that to help make easy English teaching/learning, the ministry have established some textbooks and materials, so that the students can use and self-study; for example, English 1-4 volume, Functional English 1-4 volume, and Practical English Grammar. Zhiwei claims that before sending to next class or admitting to enter a course, students are asked to take different types of tests based on their levels; for instance, (1) basic grade tests, and higher grade test are done for students who are in English department, (2) 4-6 grade English test, a test for university students, (3) PETS, a co-operative item between Chinese and British, a test for publish, and (4) English Self-study text is conducted two times per year (in April and in October) for those students who want to test their English ability.

Similarly, Zhang (2008) states that English teaching/learning becomes more and more popular in China; hence, a number of Chinese learners start to acquire English, and most of them want to be near-like English speakers. Based on ELIC website, an organization of English Language Institute in China as cited in Zhang (2008), numerous native-English instructors, especially from the United States, are hired to teach English in Chinese universities across the country. The organization adds that the reasons China rent those teachers because they are viewed as good models, and are considered effective trainers who probably provide better English knowledge to Chinese students in terms of pronunciation and accent, effective strategies and techniques, teaching styles, and others. Pennycook, 1998 as cited in Zhang (2008) also emphasizes that English teaching in China is constructed as a superior language since knowing English is believed to have a better understanding of the world making English speakers not only to be better teachers but also to gain superior knowledge of world.

Likewise, based on Zhang (2008), English language is the most-studied foreign language in many educational institutions in China. From primary schools to universities, English classes are given and every student is required to attend English class from middle school to unversity level. In middle schools, English is tutored as a basic course which is similar to mathematics, sciences and Chinese language while in university level, English language is a compulory subject. Zhang (2008) emphasizes that university students has to successfully finish English course before graduating from the universities since they will use it in their workplace. So, if their ability in English cannot be qualified, they may not be employed. On the contrary, if their English ability is strong enough, they may be given a priority to work, especially in foreign companies.

By the same token, according a study by Aimin & Yan (2011), college English (CE) is highly recommended subject for undergraduate students in China. Their study was conducted

with 20 graduates, from universtiy of Jinan in China, who have already possesed jobs for one or two years. The study shows that CE curriculum is a needed program in colleges because it provides a lot advantages to undergraduate students in their studies such as English for special purpose and billingual course as well as to gain advantages in workplace. The study also shows that graduate candicats need to have enough competence in English in order to be qualified for various positions in job market. In China, the most common jobs available are in businesses and in government organizations, and to be qualified for the job market, applicants need to make sure that they can use English in locating information, translating documents, and creating and editing English, especially in oral communication. As a result, CE program in colleges needs to be strenghtened to instill students’ ability in English to fulfill the school’s requirement and to meet job market.

Status of English language in business and economy

Zhongshi & Yu (2003) raise that in China, English plays a very important role in doing business, particularly in international business. In international business, business men and women need to use English to communicate with other foreign business people. Most documents including non-formal and formal are written in English. According to a survey study by Pang Jixian et al, 2002 as cited in Zhongshi & Yu (2003), he found that a number of business people in China mainly use English throught faxes and emails to contact their business partners instead of using Chinese language. More importantly, English is officially used in joint venture contracts and in other agreements. The study also found that Chinese people work in the international companies are given English names, so that their managers can easily address them. Furthermore, English names are not only given to employees but they are also written on logoes of many international business; for example, Mcdonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Cross Pizza, China Telecom,

China Mobile, bank of China, agricultural bank of China, and commercail and industrial bank of China (Pang Jixian et al, 2002 as cited in Zhongshi & Yu, 2003).

Zhu (2008) asserts that due to development in a number of fields in China, business English is designed for higher educational institutions. Business English is a language used by people who work in business field, so selected words, expressions, grammatical structures are utilized in only business purposes. In China, English for business has its own characteristics, and English for business program allows the learners to build up English language skill and business management skill. According to Zhu (2008), English for business becomes an interest for a number of Chinese learners since it benefits a lot for their future. For that reason, business English program for undergraduate students was first run at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. In the program, the learners who complete all requirement subjects are awarded to get BA degree in foreign language or in business management. Based on Zhu (2008), another reason that English for business gain more interest is due to an increase of globalization economy. Thus, National Education Department has designed English for business in most universities in China so that when the students graduate, they may easily get a job in business companies.

Johnson, (2010) illustrates that to expand trade inside the country and with the world, China may need to adopt English language because it could serve such purposes. After registering as a member of WTO, numerous foreign investments-western nations and the United Stated-come to China to do businesses, and more Chinese investments oversea are, as well increased noticeably. Johnson (2010) asserts that trading within a location or with local people is not enough, so Chinese traders begin to trade with foreigners, especially with the United Stated because most famous and large manufacturers are under the control of the United Stated. In other words, the United Stated is a central part in which all products and goods from different parts of

the world could traffic under their power. So, the official language for both speaking and written form is English. For this reason, Chinese traders need to improve their knowledge to English language because they might enlarge their trading either with Chinese people or with foreigners.

Johnson, (2010) further raises that knowing English bring Chinese people to have better job and benefit. In other words, English is probably a bridge to well-paid job or gate to reach working world. A big example raised by Johnson (2010) is 2008 Beijing Olympic Game which could be considered a great opportunity for Chinese people. Considerable Chinese people who have English knowledge would make much money, even taxi drivers because a number of foreign visitors entered China. Since then, more and more Chinese people are interested in English because they may earn a lot of money for daily job as well as in the next consequent famous events (China daily as cited in Johnson, 2010).

Wang (2011) emphasizes that English is regarded as a demanded foreign language by a lot of Chinese people because fo the current need in working fields. As known that China has attracted many foreign investments-companies, factories, restaurants, shops and others-to come to do business, particularly from the United States, and the United Kingdom. Hence, many Chinese people who have English knowledge are given priority to have job opportunity since in daily operation, Egnlish is used to communicate between employees and employers. Besides oral communication, written form in English through faxes, and emails are commonly used to contact one another within workplace or to other workplaces. More importantly, the legal documents such as contracts and other agreements are officially written in English, particularly in joint ventures, and agreements of exhanging products and services. According to Rugman and Collinson, 2006 as cited in Wang (2011), most management teams in international businesses use English to communicate with their employees within the company as well as with other

companies. Rugman and Collinson, 2006 as cited in Wang (2011) also point out that there are two different levels in communications in international businesses in which first one refers to a communincation between two independent business whereas the second one refers to a communication occurs in multinational business.

Status of English international relationship

Hui (2001) points out that after setting up opening door policy, Chinese government has reinforced English so that the country could probably understand and communicate with the world. Since Chinese citizen has adopted and used English, it has helped bring China to world. Probably due to the policy with integration of English in Chinese policy system, China gets involved with the world through numerous works with the United States. In addition, many foreign tourists visit China creating stronger relationship with the world. Hui (2001) further states that Chinese civil service and ministers go oversea to further their education in English as the time as more and more students get scholarship to continue their study at English speaking countries like the United State and Australia.

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Also, Gil & Adamson (2004) state that China has become more and more popular in the world; therefore, more connections between China and other countries have to be built up gradually. And to help build up the connections and to make those nations understand China or vice versa, Chinese government possibly need to use English because it is an international language. Most Chinese documents, especially official documents from political leaders need to translate into English in order that other goverments find it easily to communicate. Based on Hung, 2002 as cited in Gil & Adamson (2004), Chinese government has established Foreign Language Bureau and Foreign Language Press to help facilitate English language and translate the government’s view to the rest of the world in which China has a connection with.

Sun, 1999 as cited in Zhang (2008) raises that because of arrival of English, Chinese government could build up its prestige in international events which lift up China to the world. Zhang (2008) emphasizes that English becomes Chinese students’ passports for a better life. Chinese people who have English knowledge may find it easier to in foreign events or countries rather that those who do not know it. Bakhtin, 1984 as cited in Zhang (2008) demonstrates that to develop its connections through the world, Chinese government encourage all ministries to improve its own ability in English. Bakhtin, 1984 as cited in Zhang (2008) further explains that knowing English might provide Chinese people with good way to obtain benefits, social position and image.

According to Zhang & Zhang (2008), English teaching in China was reduced due to a cold war in 1950s and 1960s between American and Soviet. On the other hand, English returns to China with high speed due to an open-door policy created by Deng Xiaoping who wants China to be modernized with the world. Virtue of this, Chinese government has rebuilt a diplomatic relationship with the United States. For this reason, a number of American teachers, students, and scholars travel to China as well as other foreigners come to visit and reside in China. Because of better connections between China and the United States, China government has sent a few politicians to the United States or vice versa in order that they could exchange their concepts and learn each other. Lam, 1999 as cited in Zhang (2008) states that China government rents considerable English experts to help instill Chinese officials so that they may work effectively in jobs because they works as the country’s representatives

Similarly, Song (2009) indicates that due to its open-up policy, China becomes an interesting nation attracted by the world. From time to time, China plays more important role in the world in fields of politics, economy, culture, and diplomatic. A few famous events; for

example, 2008 Olympic Games, Shanghai World exhibition, and Boao Foru are consequently held in China impressing millions of people around the globe. Hence, to make China easily connect the rest of world or vice versa, Chinese people, particularly the ones who work in the government need to have English knowledge. Thus, English teaching/learning in China starts from low level (elementary) up to higher one (university level). Song (2009) reveals that due to department of English of Nanjing University, western cultures and ideas, and Chinese cultures and ideas are promoted in teaching/learning English courses. In other words, Chinese learners are encouraged to acquire both western’s and China’s philosophy and culture at the same time so that the learners can use English expressions to substitute Chinese ones when there are not any equivalence to English or vice versa.

Likewise, based on Jiang (2011), English is considered a golden award for Chinese people which could promote China’s prestige and image in many international connections after China is registered to be a member of Word Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. The international connection between China and the world is gradually accelerating as soon as appearance of English language in China. Through the connection, a few famous events such as international exhibitions, and Olympic Games celebrating in China, attract millions of people around the world to visit China. According to Li Li, a vice president of New Orient as cited in Jiang (2011) declares that the influence of those events can give China more power as well as prestige to develop the country faster. Onec again, because more and more Chinese people gain more English competence, their connections with the rest of world is getting better and better.

In the same way, Su (2011) indicates that as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), China tries its best to take adantages of this chance to meet challenges. China has promoted and accelerated both products and human resources in order to compete with other

nations. To export more products to the world, more companies and factories have been established, and run the companies and factories, human resources has been improved by sending them to well-known nations such as the United States, and the United Kingdom, so that they can develop their technological and English skills. Furthermore, to help build up their students’ knowledge in English, China has to reinforce billingual education. Student are requiresd to accomplish English since they have to face a plenty of international situations. Another benefit that China obtain after being WTO’s member is international relation. English not only brings China to compete with other nations in terms enonomy but it also allows China to have closely relationship with the world, specially with the United States. Su (2011) explain that as English serves as a variety of benefits for Chinese people and its society, China is having more willingness and power to push better national image in international arena and to encourage their students to step forward on ladder to reach the world of prestige.

III. Conclusion

According to mentioned above, status of English language may plays important roles in education, business and economy, and international connection. To some extent, arrival of English may also be one of the reasons that help develop and improve in China. It is non-avoidable thing for Chinese people to associate with others and to adopt the age of technology; as a result, it needs to accept English since it is a language of technology. Therefore, Chinese governments has emerged English education to help build up Chinese students’ ability in English from lower levels up to higher levels. Besides the importance of English in education, it also plays as a main role in doing business, especially in international businesses and international relationship.

However, Jiang (2011) states that while English may profit Chinese people and its society, the negative impact probably come to Chinese people and its language, too. Professor Ma and professor Pen as cited in Jiang (2011, p. 198) emphasizes that “there is a important connection between language and national security and English fashion in china is not a good phenomenon for the development of national language security, which is the component of national sovereignty.” The fast spread of English language in China will more or less ruin Chinese language since many Chinese students pay less attention on their own language.

According to my understanding, I would say that what China does to its country is properly right because it brings the development, prestige as well as status to the country. However, it may not be an appropriate idea to highly promote English without seeing the bad influence to the society. The more China tries to give value to English for their development; the bad impact will come to damage Chinese Language. As we know that, Chinese language is widely spoken and used if comparing to English. A number of Chinese people are around the world doing business, so its language is used accordingly. Nonetheless, if English is supported Chinese citizen, a number of next generations will more or less forget his or her own language (Chinese language) from time to time.

Based on my point of view, Chinese government should reduce the image of English by emerging Chinese language wherever English is. Chinese language should be promoted to write in research articles and publish in international journals, Chinese governments should raise awareness that Chinese language needed to be preserved in order to defend its reputation, and last but not least, Chinese government should limit the number of English learning at all educational system.


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