Mar 25, 2021

5 min read

Removing English as One of the Three Core Subjects Within Chinese 9-year Compulsory Education System (2)?

Chinese “Two-Sessions” (NPC & CPPCC) had been put to an end by the end of last week, but their upshots like seeds have just been springing up like mushrooms left, right and centre. Besides, a myriad of pending policies (we may as well render them as proposals or recommendations) are continuously debated back and forth by delegates of NPC, authorised experts in specific fields and netizens apprehensive about national policies. So is the reformative proposal in educational and cultural sphere that the delegate, Mr. Xu Jin urges the Chinese Ministry of Education to put into real operation — that is, to remove English teaching from the “Three-Giant” core subjects within Chinese primary and middle school curriculum.

The Closing Ceremony of Chinese “Two-Sessions”

In the first blog I published last Thursday, I have summarised in an detached air Mr. Xu Jin’s three principal politics while refuting his persuasive and provocative rhetoric in the light of his politics so as to make a defence for English language which should not have born so many groundless accusations. Following my rebuttals and defence, I would like to elaborate further on several sufficient and solid reasons why Chinese students in primary schools and middle schools must persist in their diligent study on English language. In this blog post, I will also centre around 3 enduring aspects: (1) the prevalence of English across the globe, (2) China’s positive connection to the world, and (3) the significance of English in students’ advancement.

The tide of economic globalisation is unstoppable.

To start with, Chinese students need to concede paramount importance to English study considering the its universality as a lingua franca (world language). There is no denying the fact that English users, which looks like a bunch of parachutes in a dandelion, have been floating to every corner of the earth, ranging from the UK to the US, Canada and Australia, and then to India, South Africa, South East Asia, and many parts of the EU and then to HK, Taiwan and finally, well, to Chinese mainland as a core subject. Apart from its popularity across the world, English does not amount to a member of the toughest human languages to pick up; Meanwhile, Chinese is thought of, by linguists, as one of the three most sophisticated languages still existent in the world (the other two: Arabic and Turkic), thus precluding it from disseminating in a wider and broader scope than English. Therefore, Chinese students should go extra miles to acquire such an approach to intercultural communication so that they can take due responsibilities for popularising their mother tongue in the future.

English as a lingua franca?

Additionally, instead of a trivial matter, irrelevant, indifferent and immaterial, students have a desperate need of English both in the context of Chinese Reform and Opening-up Policy in a higher level and in line with the indispensable tide of economic globalisation. As what I mentioned in the first aspect, English builds a superhighway of cross-cultural communication that Chinese cannot be equalled temporarily; it enables Chinese students to keep pace with the frequency an tempo of the current world, to “do as the Romans do when in Rome” or “put themselves in other’s shoes”. On the contrary, it would be no less than cultural exclusiveness, conservatism, impermeability and more severely, xenophobia if English learning were to be ruled out from the 9-year Compulsory Education System in that students, like an alienated ‘island’, are more liable to be cut off from the kaleidoscopic, exotic world, putting a menace to Chinese benign interaction with the other part of the world in the long run. In consequence, it is the such narrow-mindedness that is supposed to be alerted to and to be damped out at sea.

Premier Li Keqiang said on 19 September, 2018 that the trend of globalization is unstoppable, and the basic principles of free trade should be maintained despite of flaws in the process.

Above all, not only should Chinese students insist in English study at an elementary level, but also they must make strides on the acquisition of this language at an advanced phase in the interest of their future progression. To be specific, students must work like Trojans to hone their English integrity if they have a preference for pursuing a master’s degree or PhD, participating in academic conference in an international discourse, or thrusting their way up career ladders in foreign enterprises. In consideration of such three instances, the skilful acquisition of English has become a threshold which distinguishes excellence from mediocrity to a larger extent. So how could students be denied the exposure and availability to English at the starting line?

English is an effective approach to information and knowledge for Chinese students when they futher their master’s degree or doctorate degree.
English is a superhighway of communication when Chinese students attend international academic conferences.
Being an expert at English language is beneficial to promotion within foreign enterprises.

From what I have delved into as well as what I had rebutted in the first blog, I may as well firmly draw a conclusion at a higher level of generality: on one hand, English cannot be evaluated solely by the notion of utilitarianism, it is a human language rather than a string of computer codes, and its obviation may presumably put more crushing weight on students and their family; on the other, three necessities make it possible that English study must be soldiered on, come rain and shine: the universal application of the language, our nation’s active participation in globalisation and Chinese students per se.