- Education and Science
More on the ESL Classroom
Challenges in the China English teaching system.
One of the things that irritates me (and there are several) is the poor English standards. I know when I was here last I had a long and fruitful discussion with a Chinese English teacher, as my students kept on pronouncing the word "clothes" as "clothzez". I pointed out that there was only one "s" in clothes, but she claimed that this was the accepted pronunciation in the university where she studied English. I assured her that it didn't matter if it was British English or American English - no one ever pronounced the word as she had been taught. She was most surprised and was going to endeavour to check my information and also inform her colleagues if she could confirm it.
As it happens I have not heard the incorrect pronunciation since I have been her this time.
One of the strange things that is common at this university and college is that there are strange English quotes on the walls. And many of them are in poor English. I will endeavour to get some photos. But it is a joke to us. If the Chinese educators really want to make a differnce surely they could ask some native English speakers (they have many on staff!)
The text books.
Now many of them purport to be written by various English academies in the UK or US. I suspect that the originals were - but as plagiarism has been rife here, it makes sense to assume that some enthusiastic Chinese person/persons, have rewritten the books, and sold them to the educational institutions as the real thing. Hence the occasional bizarre and incorrect English.
As ESL teachers we find ourselves in a difficult position. Do we criticise the books in front of the students? Do we correct the books? What explanation do we give to the students? Often we come across the mistake as we read the material or as the student reads it.
And some content of the text books is conversational English, and if it is material frm the US, it is likely to have some strange words. "I dunno" "I wanna" etc.
Now we can accept that this languge is being used by young people, but should we be teaching this as good English? No, I don't believe so. So we have to explain that it is slang, and that if our students want to write good English business material, those words should not be used.
In our school they are very frugal re photocopying material. We have a situation in one class where we do not have the material. The students do not have the text book. So we have to find an alternative. Here they tend to be so tight with their budget, that they expect US, the teachers, to fund the copying. On occasions we have done so, but when you have 300+ students, and they each need a sheet or two, the cost soon adds up.
Why should be pay anyway, when it is not our fault that the material has not arrived? Grrrr. But in China it is often hard to make the college see our side of the argument.