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Subscriptions steady for English study guides

(China Daily)

11:10, April 10, 2013

Though wide range is on offer, quality still lacking.

Circulation remains steady among newspapers designed to help Chinese learn English despite an overall downturn in print media.

According to official estimates, the circulation of the nation's English-language study newspapers is about 20 million.

Demand is still growing for these materials, said Lu Ziwen, a professor of English language at Central China Normal University and a member of the State English curriculum standard design team.

Because English is a foreign language, domestic publishers are not equipped to produce the same wide array of materials as they do for other subjects, Lu said. Though many English materials are available, there is still a shortage of material that is high in quality and tailored to different needs.

"A high school student has access to economics articles (in English) online now, but for them, economics may not be the right study material," Lu added.

He said English-language study newspapers cater to increasingly diverse needs.

Also, these papers provide quizzes, which are prohibited in textbooks but are often used by teachers and students to practice for exams, Lu said.

In addition to the renowned 21st Century newspaper - a China Daily publication - English Weekly is one of China's largest English-language study guide newspapers in terms of circulation, according to the General Administration of Press and Publication. The paper is used throughout the country by teachers like Su Le.

"Our school has always ordered English Weekly," said Su, a high school English teacher in Taizhou, Jiangsu province.

Su said she loves the quizzes in the paper, which she uses to conduct assessments from course to course.

Lu also said that teachers benefit from the study guide, including free teachers' versions and seminars provided by the newspapers.

The paper has received some public criticism by those who claim it is being forced on students.

In Su's school, students are not required to order the newspaper, but she says all the students buy it.

However, students may not be fans of the English study newspaper, such as Zhang Ziyan, a seventh grader in Guangzhou.

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