Problems for learners in ChinaChina is a fast developing country where english learning has become popularly demanded for both educational and business purposes. From my own experience, teaching english in china
is for the most part pleasant and exciting. Students are taught to be respectful to their teachers and serious about their learning, therefore classroom discipline is easy to control and students are being well behaved in the lesson, but this also cause the problem of lacking in creativity and willingness to communicate. I found most of the chinese learners are extremely committed and high achieving students, they are curious and eager to learn about the new language, however they tend to listen and absorb knowledge directly from the teacher rather than to explore and practice the language themselves. In chinese culture, people are very concern about the “face” issue, they would rather say nothing than make a mistake and “lose face” to their peers and some people even settle for the “less said the better” attitude, and this became the biggest obstacle in their learning.
Another frustrate thing while teaching language, is that students often transfer the rules of their native language into the use of new language. In China, students will easily fall back to their native language when they have insufficient knowledge about the rules of english language. For example, chinese speakers usually use a specific time phrase to mark the time, and it is common for them to produce sentences like “I yesterday went shopping”, “I tomorrow will go to school” while the correct forms should be “I went shopping yesterday” and “I will go to school tomorrow”. Students are also easily muddled by the use of “do” and “does”, “is” and “are”, as they have the same verb for all grammatical person in chinese. Typical errors that can be found in the writing and speaking are “Do she go to school every day?”, “He play the main character in this film.”, “They does the homework after school.”, etc. It is also very common for them to forget to add “s” or ”es” for plurals, as they only change the quantity numbers but the nouns stay the same in chinese. E.g. they will write “Peter ate two apple and one banana for lunch” where the “apple” should be in plural form “apples”. And they usually confused by the rule of english that some nouns are countable but some are not, for those non-countable nouns, they don’t have a plural form. For example, “information”, “luck” and “money” are non-countable nouns and students may use “informations”, “lucks” and “moneys” while trying to use the plural form. With the knowledge of students’ native language, teachers can understand why students make the same kinds of errors repeatedly and to help students to improve.
In China, the opportunity of using english is very limited and this makes students lacking the motivation to experience the language in their daily life. It is often that the language teacher may be the only source of real and live english the student has ever encountered, and classroom is the only place where they can speak and practice english. This is why practicing the use of english was made a top priority by many english teachers, it is also important to make the classroom a safe and comfortable place for students to speak and share. As China is becoming more open to the global, many foreigners have come to China for business nowadays, and therefore more and more companies encourage their staff to learn english for the purpose of communicating with their business partners.
Furthermore, I often find chinese learners have better reading and writing skills than the speaking and listening skills, and this is what we usually refer to the “deaf and dumb english”. The occurrence of this phenomenon is the traditional way of english teaching in china
is insufficient, students are required to memorise the words and their definitions, and teachers direct all attentions towards written examinations rather than get students to know the true language and experiment it in real world. This methodology needs to be reformed as it limited students’ learning and motivation. Learning language is not like memorising a formula or model, it have to be used and practiced every day. Thus english teacher should encourage students to use and experiment the language as often as they can, and develop students’ abilities to absorb the language themselves.
In conclusion, teaching english in China is a challenging and yet exciting experience. It also gives the english teacher an opportunity to explore the chinese people, culture and language, and it will no doubt add a value to your teaching career.