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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?

By: Tim William Machan

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: Can You Get a First Class Education at a Third Tier College in China?
Paper URL: http://www.teachers.net/gazette/APR03/qiangwolff.html
Author: Niu Qiang
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Wisconsin Madison
Linguistic Field: General Linguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: It is our experience in China that 2nd tier university and 3rd tier college administrators and faculty assume a condescending approach to curriculum development, academic standards and school administration.

Students attending these universities and colleges failed to attain the college entrance examination scores that would have allowed them to attend a top tier university. Some of the students (possibly the top 10%) are quite capable of performing well in a top tier university and simply put, choked at a time of pressure and only proved that they are not good at taking tests. These students were unable to attain the minimum required test score on one three day test and this effects their entire future.

The vast majority of these students (possibly the middle 70%) are either disadvantaged in their college preparation or in their personal ability. These students are in need of a remedial curriculum in their first year of college or even an additional preparatory year of pre-college. These students haven not had good opportunities to develop their English, compared with the privileged kids who have been provided with extra classes given by university lecturers and Foreign Experts (FEs), to improve their English, or attended a famous middle school.

Then there is the bottom twenty percent who should have been diverted to a vocational educational training program. These lower end students just do not belong in a theoretical higher education college setting. Many of these students were admitted to college due to guanxi, i.e. parental influence, position or even 'gifts'.

It appears to us that the academic standards of the 3rd tier college accommodate or even favor the graduation of the lower 20% of the students, to the detriment of the truly capable students who are necessarily held back from reaching their individual potential. There may be several reasons for this, which we will explore separately.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Progress in Education (Chapter, in press)
URL: http://www.teachers.net/gazette/APR03/qiangwolff.html

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