Professor Gu Yueguo Pro-Vice Chancellor of Beijing Foreign Studies UniversityMember of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
ELL in China: Past, Present and Future GU Yueguo The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Beijing Foreign Studies University
温故而知新 One knows more by reviewing the past ! ---- Confucius
Main Headings ELL in China: the Past (up to 1949) ELL in China: the Present (1949-2009) ELL in China: the Future ELL: Some logistics
1 ELL in China: From Late Qin Dynasty to 1949
Provisions of Education Three systems were operating in parallel: • Traditional schools and colleges ( 书院, shuyuan） • New schools (学堂, xuetang), and universities • Missionary schools and universities
Traditional Schools and Colleges • Classical curriculum; • Learning of Confucianism; • Civil servant examination; • Anti-Western learning; • Orthodox and wide popularity until the civil servant exam was abolished in the last few years of Qin Dynasty.
New Schools and Universities • New schools, some coming from the reformed old-style traditional schools; • New universities (e.g. 京师大学堂, now Peking U，国立北洋大学, i.e. now Tianjing U.） • Supported by reform-minded officials; • English was the primary FL being taught; • In the early years, foreign language schools were set up to train interpreters and translators; • In the later schools and universities, FL was the compulsory subject.
Missionary Schools and Universities • Missionary schools: up to 1914, reaching about 4000; (charity) • Universities: about 13 or more; • English was the compulsory subject to be taught and learned;
The Republic (1911-1949) • New national curriculum: to produce citizens of a republic, not subjects of an emperor; • Traditional curriculum abolished; • Confucianism no longer taught; • Junior, senior middle schools and universities appeared • FL (EL the most important) was compulsory;
Look at with hindsight -- 1 • English was taught either from the outside, or from the top, but not from the bottom; • English had never been taught for the sake of the language, but remained instrumental to all the parties involved; • A fundamental change occurred to the status of English after the national curriculum reform in the late Qin and the early Republic. It became an academic subject to be learned, at least during the school or university years. • Individual learners were generally not motivated by themselves to learn English.
Look at with hindsight -- 2 Tensions always had existed between: • Chinese and foreign; • Chinese learning and Western learning; • ELL at the primary and ELL at the secondary; • ELL at the junior and ELL at the senior; • English as both an academic subject and as an instructional medium.
2 ELL in China: From 1949 to the Present
An Outline • Chronically speaking: 1949 to 1966; 1966-1976; 1978- 2009 • ELL in the primary and secondary education • ELL in the tertiary education • ELL and mass media • ELL and globalization
Chronically speaking • This period (1949-1966) witnessed • Primacy: English to Russian, and back to English; • The Great Cultural Revolution (1966-1976): • The period 1978 up to the present: • English as the primary FL well established; • This reflects the impact the political atmosphere has on FL in China.
FL (Russian or English) In the early years of New China, national curriculum kept being revised over when FL should be taught: • Throughout the secondary education • Starting from Grade 3; • Only during the senior middle school;
English Replacing Russian • NC (1959): Junior English back again • English for Primary Education (1962): experimental in good schools; • By 1963, English in practice replaced Russian as the most taught FL
ELL and Foreign Language Schools • Foreign language schools: starting from 1958; • By 1965, there had been 14 foreign language schools.
ELL and Teacher Training • NC (1978): from Grade 3 all the way to the Senior Middle School; in practice, only the Senior Middle; • Teacher training for JMS and SMS in 1983: the British Council Projects (personally involved)
The latest debate (in Chinese way) • The junior vs. senior: more or less settled --- both; • Grade 3: depends on local conditions; • Pre-school children: should they start learning English? No authority has ever said yes. But the impetus is building up from the bottom, and reinforced by the invisible market force, particularly by the publishers, and profit-driven training programmes. • This triggers a question raised by some skeptics of whether it is worthwhile learning English in the first place.
Two General Divides • English as major • English as non-major --- now officially known as College English
English as Major: the latest trend • In the past: English as Major == Language and literature; • Now English (as language) plus … appears as a general trend. • In other words, English is becoming an instructional medium. • Qualified staff is in big demand.
English as Non-Major Curriculum: debated for a decade: • Literacy vs. oracy; • Core English vs. ESP; • Two years or four years; • Are the time and efforts worthwhile? • Oversized classes --- what to do?
ELL and Technology • English as Non-Major --- the majority of learners; • Shortage of qualified staff; • CALL: considered to be a viable supplement; • Nearly all colleges and universities are required to have some sort of CALL component in ELT
ELL and Globalization • Joint ventures; • Tourism • Overseas investments • International exchange programmes • All these create a massive demand for in-service training.
Studies overseas • From 1982 to the early 1990’s --- selected and sent by the State authorities • Since 2000, students privately paid increased drastically; • The latest trend: senior middle school graduates choose to have college education abroad.
Test-driven training • Training for TOEFL and IELTS proves to be an inexhaustible market; • New Oriental is a well-known case; • The latest trend: college entrance exams such as SAT boom, which reflects the trend of SMS graduates going to college overseas.
ELL and Mass Media • Mass Media has always been considered to be the most cost-effective way to teach FL; • Popularization of English owes a great deal to mass media.
3 ELL in China: the Future
Reflections There are a wide range of factors, which can be grouped into two general groups: Visible hand: • Government policies • National curriculum • National economy and GDP Invisible hand: • Market forces • Nationalism in joint ventures • International environment • Groups of interests (e.g. organizations, stakeholders)
Areas of tension • EL in Pre-school • EL in primary education • The way EL is being taught and learned in secondary and tertiary educations • EL and its connection with job promotion and career • EL and nationalism in joint ventures (Korean being required in Korean joint ventures)
Fundamental changes • Individual space and resources privately owned have changed beyond imagination; • More and more individuals’ motivation for learning English becomes a matter of personal choice;
Intellectually speaking • EL as an academic subject will remain carved in the curriculum; • EL as a window to the outside world will remain open to Chinese intellectuals for ever (e.g. access to academic works is wanted by every intellectual)
Chinese vs. /& English in the global context The Chinese language • As a medium of social interaction (increasing steadily) • As a medium of academic works (very limited outside China) • As a medium of instruction (limited outside China) • As a medium of history (confined to a very few sinologists)
Learners of English • According to a survey in 1999-2000, about 370 million learned English in one way another; • Junior and senior middle school students: about 80 million.
College English Learners Annual intake: 5 to 6 million, Two years’ turn-over: 10 to 12 million;
The latest survey on FL preference • English 88.98% • French 5.99% • Japanese 5.81% • Korean 3.08% • German 2.48% • Russian 2.06% • Spanish 1.74%
ELL and Education National Curriculum for Middle School (1950) --- 3 (junior) 4 (senior), for 6 years, Russian or English NCMS (1954, 1955), no FL for junior; NCMS (1956), English replacing Russian becoming the first FL NCMS (1957): English for both Junior and Senior NCMS (1958): English for Senior only.
Any Patterns Emerging? Demand