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English teaching gets lost in translation (5)

(China Daily)

14:40, November 11, 2011

Different goals

The test-centered curriculum doesn't make things easier. Xu Jie, a teacher of English for non-majors for 10 years, said it is essential to maintain a balance between teaching English and preparing students for tests.

"The (CET-4) test puts the students in a state of war and makes them nervous," Xu said. "After passing the competitive gaokao, they expect lively and interesting English classes in college. But I'm afraid CET-4 may disappoint them." (English is a core subject in gaokao, the national college entrance examination.)

Zhu Shuang, a geography senior, experienced exactly that.

"Upon entering college, there might have been a time when I fantasized that I could actually get to learn English as a language instead of a subject. I simply like English," she said. "But I soon realized that passing CET-4 would become the ultimate goal for my English studying in college."

Yao Laijing, former chairwoman of the university's English club, put it this way: "We have about 500 members, but most of them are freshmen. In the second year, CET-4 takes away their desire to learn English.

"People's interest in the language itself is our most cherished asset," she said. She recalled the first time she organized an outdoor reading session, a freezing, snowy morning when more than 100 students stamped their feet and read aloud essays by 16th century English author Francis Bacon.

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