From the Readers

Language of communication

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-02 07:50
Large Medium Small

English is taught in schools like any other subject, not as a language of communication. No wonder, most of the students cannot speak or speak only broken English even after passing the highest-level exam.

Since few teachers and students in schools (especially public schools) speak English in China, how can one make it a medium of communication in classrooms, let alone outside school?

Besides, the passive exam-oriented education system does not reveal whether a student can speak English or not.

Like any other language, English can be studied at two levels: spoken and written. The basic level is oral communication, without any spelling or writing involved. But the existing exam-oriented education system cannot make students proficient in spoken English, because it is focused on written English.

To ensure that students communicate properly in English the authorities have to set up "spoken English centers" where they can learn to communicate with each other in real situations such as shopping, ordering food in a restaurant, playing games and even attending a class in which other subjects can also be discussed in English.

Yen Jong-chang, via e-mail

Readers' comments are welcome. Please send your e-mail to or or to the individual columnists. China Daily reserves the right to edit all letters. Thank you.

(China Daily 07/02/2010 page9)