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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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What is English? And Why Should We Care?

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To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.


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Academic Paper


Title: English or Chinglish
Author: Niu Qiang
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Wisconsin Madison
Linguistic Field: General Linguistics; Language Acquisition
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Have recent developments in language policy begun to endanger the autonomy of China?

ABSTRACT: A great deal has been written and said about various approaches to the successful methodology for teaching English as a second language in China. Entire professional Journals are devoted to the subject, such as Teaching English In China, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, to name a couple. But no matter how much is written, and no matter what teaching method is employed; the bottom line is that the average Chinese student learns to orally communicate in Chinglish i.e. Mandarin sprinkled with English or English with Mandarin induced syntax.

The teaching of English as a Second Language (ESL) in China has become a nationwide endeavor pursued at all academic levels, from the kindergarten to the University. In the past ten years there has been an explosion in the development of public school English programs and private English language schools throughout China. ESL has become very big business in China (source: China Daily, HK Edition, October 9, 2002. Reports show that ESL has become a 10-billion yuan business in China. Of the 37 billion yuan annual book sales, ESL takes up as much as 25% of the market share. And a few ESL teachers in Shanghai command an hourly rate of 1,000 yuan (US$120). Even on average, a student pays 10-20 yuan (US$1.2-2.4) for one hour of ESL training). Many of the private ESL schools are in some type of partnership relationship with one or more public schools (Delter Wuhan International Business Institute is partnered with the Wuhan Railroad Vocational Technical College; Telfort Business Institute is partnered with the Shanghai Metallurgy College; the Sino-Canadian Joint Program is partnered with the Shanghai Television University; Delter Jinan is partnered with Jinan Railroad Polytechnic Institute; Delter Tianjin is partnered with the Xinhua shi gong da xue University; Jilin Telfort International Business Institute is partnered with the Jilin Railway School of Economics; Mount Rpya; Business Institute is partnered with the The Chengdu Hydro Electric Power College; and Delter Beijing is partnered with the Beijing Electric Power College).

There appear to be certain implied or tacit assumptions underlying the nationwide ESL program in China (A. Everyone in China needs to learn ESL; B. There is one ESL teaching method suitable on a nationwide basis; C. Chinese ESL teachers without western cultural experience are capable of teaching ESL; D. All native English speakers with a college degree are qualified to be ESL teachers; E. Chinese should 'master' English; F. Chinglish is unacceptable or bad language). These assumptions may themselves doom the ESL student to becoming a mere technician of grammatical rules without any appreciable ability to effectively communicate in any form of oral English, other than Chinglish. The ESL teaching curriculum may itself be to blame for the production of students capable of little more than orally communicating in Chinglish.

Each underlying implied or tacit assumption may be seriously flawed and should be thoroughly scrutinized by linguistic and other scholars throughout China. The instant cursory examination of each of the underlying assumptions causes concern that the assumptions have dubious origins, are not supported by any empirical study or other evidence, and are inappropriate foundations for a national ESL program.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: In Progress
Publication Info: In Jury Review


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