As China's students focus on English, grasp on Chinese slipping

15:11, October 22, 2010      

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Currently, a strange phenomenon has appeared on China's university campuses. Many students are spending a lot of energy learning English, but they have lost the ability to correctly and fluently use the Chinese language.

In the First Academic Session on Life and Chinese Language recently held at Renmin University of China, the vice dean of the University's School of Liberal Arts He Yang expressed his disappointment at the current university students' Chinese language level. He believes that the education model, insufficient investment as well as outdated and poorly-constructed course content are the key reasons for the decline in education in the mother tongue.

In 2009, He Yang's students carried out a questionnaire survey among 319 students from Tsinghua University, Renmin University of China, Beijing Foreign Studies University and the Central Academy of Drama to test their ability of distinguishing and properly choosing some Chinese characters and frequently-used phrases. The results astonished all the people, and 68 percent of the respondents scored less than 70 points and 30 percent scored less than 60 points.

He Yang also mentioned another disappointing sampling survey. The target of the survey was part of the homework done by the students of Renmin University's "University Chinese Language" course. The title of the homework is "A Self-Recommendation Letter to a Supervisor." Of the 74 letters, 49 have "form of wording" problems, 64 were written in "a tone that does not meet the requirements of a self-recommendation letter," and all of them have grammatical errors, such as improper collocations and misuses of function words.

What hides behind these severe problems is the current gloomy situation of Chinese education in China's universities. In 2009, Renmin University also carried out a survey on the condition of the "University Chinese Language" course of China's six renowned universities. The results showed that the Chinese language education has not received enough attention, and the notion that English language is more emphasized than the Chinese language is still quite severe.

By People's Daily Online

(Editor:叶欣)

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