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The Drastic Problems of Chinese Learners in English

The Drastic Problems of Chinese Learners in English | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Language has always played an important role in communication between people. Today, in the globalization, the importance of mastering a foreign language has become increasingly prominent. English is the most widely used language in the world.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Xiao W. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

English Status in China

In the 21st century, English is not unfamiliar to us Chinese. In our life, we can find English everywhere with little attention. Most Chinese learn dumb English. Few people can communicate with foreigners without barriers. Some Western netizens can't help wondering why English is so difficult for Chinese to learn.

The primary purpose of education for Chinese students is to cope with the college entrance examination. In the 21st century, Chinese students attach great importance to English learning. Until graduation, the time and cost of investing in English learning may be the highest in non-English speaking countries in the world.

If we start from the common English enlightenment in kindergartens, more and more Chinese students have been learning English for up to 20 years. As the most highly participated examination for college students, the number of people who apply for CET-4 and CET-6 is about 9 million each time. Almost every Chinese college student has experienced the struggle against CET-4 and CET-6.

Also Read: How much can I earn teaching English in China?

Reasons for Low Results in English

Economical Challenges

First, in China, the real level of English and proficiency, to a large extent, can not determine your social status and income level, or even in many cases almost unrelated.

Even in the enviable Internet industry in recent decades, the vast majority of its practitioners do not need to test their English proficiency when they share dividends, even for those who earn tens of thousands of dollars a month. English, for Chinese "social people", is only a threshold for participation in the selection and a skill that can be forgotten after getting a certificate.

Conversely, Shanghai and Suzhou are the regions with the highest IELTS scores in China. This kind of "export-oriented economy" is more obvious, and "transnational" and "financial" industries are more developed. Only when the social status and income level and the use of English are related, can people have the motivation to learn English well.

In India, fluent English is the minimum standard for elite circles, while China's various "high net worth groups" and "second generation" people can stand out without having to be proficient in English at all. Not to mention, because the difference of "whether or not the society uses English" leads to the scarcity of the English environment in Chinese society. Students can only contact in class or "English Corner" or other places. Whether they go home or go out, there is hardly any English environment, and it is difficult to use it in a large number of high frequencies.

Also Read: 6 Things You Will Miss Out On If You Don't Teach English Abroad

Differences in Two Languages

The second major obstacle to Chinese learning English is the huge gap between Chinese and English in pronunciation, grammar, and expression habits. For example, when Chinese pronounce sounds that are not available in their mother tongue, they do not pronounce very well, including consonants, tongue bites and nasal sounds in English, such as V at the beginning of a word, th, etc. For example, when Chinese people grasp some grammatical concepts that do not exist in Chinese (such as tense) and contact different word orders, they will encounter difficulties. Chinese is the prefix of fixed adverbial, while English is the postposition of fixed adverbial, which causes many Chinese to see this word order is very headache, the emergence of so-called long and difficult sentences.

Cultural Background

More fundamentally, there are also great differences in thinking and expressing habits reflected behind the Chinese and English languages.

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Lack of Proper Study

In IELTS scores, the performance of Chinese mainland candidates in writing and speaking (i.e. English output skills) was significantly lower than that of listening and reading (English input skills). This is quite different from the average performance of global candidates, which just reflects the improper method of learning English in China. This also reflects the relative lack of oral training in Chinese secondary schools. In China's education system, English is not taught, learned and practiced as a language communication skill, but as a "knowledge" to force students to memorize grammar rules and words. This violates the law of language learning. It is like learning the knowledge and skills of swimming for decades, reciting all kinds of swimming movements perfectly, but it has hardly been practiced in the water. I thought that when the foundation is laid, the water will not panic, maybe it will make people amazing.

These are the problems and the reasons behind the Chinese learners. I, myself have the same experience of English learning. I’ve been learning English since primary school and luckily, I have a great interest in it. In 2007 I bought the course from Wall Street English, which is the world's biggest English training institute for adults. After graduation, I became an English teacher at Wall Street, which job responsibilities were teaching and implementing the WSE Method.

Do you want to teach English abroad? Take a TEFL course!

The whole method is very similar to EFL. And if you want to be promoted to management level, you must get a Tefl certificate which is one of the reasons for me to take this course. Another reason is that I intend to further polish my EFL teaching skills to offer better service for my students. EFL teaching methodology is effective for Chinese students, especially in oral English. It encourages Chinese students to speak out with confidence and enjoy learning English, not to pass the exams.

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