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Should English be taken out of China’s gaokao?

English , China's college exams

A debate about learning English is re-emerging in China.



The discussion is resurfacing after a local newspaper reported that Gu Mingyuan, president of the Chinese Society of Education, told an education forum in Hangzhou over the weekend that English would be taken out of the national college-entrance exam, called the gaokao, in a new reform plan to be implemented in 2017.    



Under the plan, English exams would be given by social institutions, and universities would consider those results when enrolling students, the newspaper cited Mr. Gu as saying. Currently, all students learn English in grade school, and it's featured on the nation's college-entrance exam.



Mr. Gu couldn't be immediately reached for comment. A spokesman for the academic group told China Real Time that Mr. Gu, a professor at Beijing Normal University, is the organization's former president and now serves as an honorary president. The spokesman said he hadn't seen the local news report. 

记者无法立即联系到顾明远进行评论。中国教育学会发言人告诉"中国实时报"栏目,顾明远是北京师范大学(Beijing Normal University)的教授,曾担任中国教育学会的会长,目前是该机构的名誉会长。该发言人称,他没有看到媒体的相关报道。


But are Chinese students sick of learning English, or are they just tired of having their language skills tested?



By Monday afternoon, about 55% of nearly 89,000 Weibo users said in a poll on the social media platform that they supported the idea of removing English from the official exam.   



'The reason I support it is not because of English itself, but because the exams have turned English into a kind of grammar 'formula.' It has ruined generations,' one Weibo user wrote.        



'Don't forget we are Chinese. To learn foreign languages is to know the world better, but mastering our mother tongue is the most important skill to make a living,' wrote another.   



A draft plan of the gaokao reform plan released late last year said that English tests conducted by social institutions would replace those on the gaokao by 2020, and that students would be able to choose when to take the tests, the official China Education Daily said in a report carried on the ministry's website in December.   



The debate about whether to exclude English from the gaokao exams is another sign that English may be losing its charm in China.        



Earlier last year, a group of top Chinese universities, including the Beijing Institute of Technology, dropped English tests from their independent entrance examinations for fields such as engineering. Education authorities in the city of Beijing also announced proposals to reduce the weight given to English test scores in critical public examinations, including the college admissions tests, or gaokao.   

去年早些时候,包括北京理工大学(Beijing Institute of Technology)在内的多所中国顶尖大学在工程等专业的独立入学考试中取消了英语考试。北京教育主管部门还宣布在包括高考在内的重大公共考试中降低英语分值的方案。


But not everybody believes reducing English training and examinations in China is a good idea.



Leaving English out of the national exam will create even more unfairness in terms of getting access to educational resources, as English learners will have to turn to more expensive private language-training schools, said He Jun, a researcher with Beijing Anbound Information, a private think tank.   

私人智库机构北京安邦咨询公司(Beijing Anbound Information)的研究人员贺军表示,英语退出全国性考试将在教育资源分配方面制造更大的不公平,因为学习英语的人将被迫求助于价格更高的私营语言培训学校。


'It will add to the existing educational injustice and doesn't help to strengthen the Chinese language and culture,' Mr. He wrote in a note to clients and media.



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