Teach English in YangjiAji Zhen - Zhumadian Shi

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The desire to learn English has increased exponentially over the years in China, and with it the desire for qualified educational institutions. This is reflected in the establishment of English training schools around almost every corner, as well as in a focus in English in as low as middle and high schools. Every public school across the country has English departments, and many students choose to exclusively focus upon English in their university education. Despite the attention devoted to the study of the language, it is very easy to find students frustrated and stressed by their slow pace of Improvement. a. Predatory schools In the field of business, it is not uncommon for the marketing team to oversell a product or company. And this is what most, if not all, English schools are like in China. Schools are treated more like a business enterprise where making a profit is the top priority. Most schools have a separate marketing department that is very detached from the academic section. The target of this marketing team is, just as any other enterprise, to get as many clients as possible. And this includes saying whatever sells best. As most parents don’t speak English, they are unable to verify claims about the quality of education offered by the school, and they fall prey to and sign up for lessons at these schools. Their children, in turn, fall into the same cycle of very enthusiastic initial students who turn bitter, frustrated and unhappy with what they get for their money but have no recourse. Most students come with the belief that they are going to be speaking fluently within the shortest possible time, as that’s what they were promised. The fact is most of these marketing agents do not speak any English nor have any idea about how to best learn the language. And what they sell is most likely different from what the school actually practices. b. “Pinyin-nization” of English. Pronunciation is one of the difficulties Chinese students face in their everyday struggle to learn the English language. Students use pinyin or Chinese to footnote the pronunciation of new vocabulary. However, these pronunciations are almost always close rather than correct. Students and sometimes teachers just compromise with whatever comes closest to the desired and correct pronunciation when students run into words that are very difficult and sometimes seemingly impossible for students. Although teachers keep using drills to enforce proper pronunciation of works, it is very easy to note that most students still struggle with such correct pronunciations, especially those without an exact Chinese equivalence. c. The unfavorable language environment in which these students find themselves has also proven to be an obstacle in their endeavors. Surrounded by a non-English environment, practicing becomes difficult for most. After an hour or two of classes, they go back to an all Chinese environment which affects their retention rates, and they are unable to have any practical use of the language at all outside their classrooms. For most, apart from these class hours, they have no one else to talk to using the language, which adversely affects their learning and language development abilities. d. Another closely related factor is the frequency of English classes. it is very popular to see once a week, or maximum, twice a week English class schedules. This, in addition to the reason mentioned above, makes it easy for students to forget a greater portion of what they have studied before their next class session. Out of the 168 hours in the week, students are looking at just one or two hours of English lessons. e. Another contributing factor is the overall perception of the language. For most students and parents alike, the sole aim of learning English is to pass whatever test awaits them. So, it is very easy for students to pay less attention at the beginning of the semester or during speaking sessions and try to memorize grammatical guidelines days before the exam. And for those whose major isn't English related, things get worse. Especially in public schools, getting students to take part in active speaking is difficult as speaking isn't part of most tests in these institutions. In some schools, the foreign teacher is just a marketing idol to attract students. A headmaster once told me “we don’t care what you do in class. Just play with them, make them happy.” f. The lack of qualified teachers is also a major problem that negatively impacts students’ learning abilities. Many teachers are just people from native English-speaking countries without prior teaching experience. Their only qualification is coming from an English-speaking country. In some areas, the preference for white-skinned teachers has clouded their judgement in finding qualified workers. Some parents’ requests for a white teacher has left school administrators with no choice but to hire unqualified teachers because, at the end of the day, that sells better. The high demand from such a vast country has left most schools with no choice but to use under-qualified staff. The average Chinese student can still be described as very hardworking as this is what the culture and schools instill in children right from the word go. However, these problems, most of which can’t be blamed on to the kid, limits their ability to learn and use English despite such hard work. Almost everyone I met in China who spoke fluent English was someone who took the language as a hobby rather than a class subject. They loved it and surrounded themselves with what would help them achieve their English learning goals. This ranged from daily doses of English movies and short videos to making friend, reading English books, using online platforms and app to chat with speakers of the language, among others. These can be better supplements to weekly classes and help make a difference.