Commentary: China's efforts to shed burdens for young students misread by Western media

(Xinhua) 08:53, September 17, 2021

BEIJING, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- As China strives to ease the workload of the country's young students by reducing their excessive homework and off-campus tutoring, misinterpretation of some Western media, deeply-rooted in their bigotry, has arisen.

Some journalists, when covering China's recently launched "double reduction" national campaign on basic education, accused Beijing of "increasingly rejecting English."

These groundless allegations turned a blind eye to the simple fact that the reason why China regulated the after-class training is not to "close off a nation" to push back "against the language and against Western influence in general," but to reduce students' learning burdens at home.

The campaign also aims to promote equality in the education sector by extending on-campus classes for every student. It is fair to say that "double reduction" encourages Chinese students to improve the on-campus efficiency of learning both curriculum and extra-curriculum subjects, including foreign languages.

China has all along called for pursuing a high-quality basic education and alleviating burdens on students. As early as in 2007, Shanghai Municipal Education Commission issued a notice that prohibited schools from conducting district-wide unified examinations for elementary students. The final examination of pupils in grades 3, 4 and 5 is limited to Chinese and mathematics, while other subjects including English are examined in flexible and diverse ways.

The notice has since continued to take effect in Shanghai's annual curriculum planning and was listed in this year's routine announcement before the new semester.

Language education is an important and indispensable part of China's compulsory education. For Chinese students, learning their mother tongue is a must, and learning a foreign language will enable them to better understand and communicate with the outside world.

Since China started reform and opening-up in 1978, it has made foreign language one of the test subjects in its national college entrance exam. As this basic national policy continues to implement deeply, China's teaching and learning system has been continuously updated and optimized. The "double reduction" campaign is just the latest of them.

Different from 40 years ago, now the Chinese can acquire English not only from the classrooms but also from their family members, as well as online TV dramas, community activities and international programs.

As a result, foreign language proficiency of Chinese has improved greatly over the past decades. More Chinese people display their linguistic talents in international affairs and trade cooperation.

For instance, nearly 200 college students from Shanghai International Studies University provided 19 foreign languages services during the third China International Import Expo last year.

It is worth noting that more and more foreigners are learning Chinese, too. The Chinese language has been incorporated into the national education systems of more than 70 countries.

The linguistic and cultural exchanges have become the "new normal" in the current phase of globalization, which will help boost the mutual understandings between China and the world. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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