English test unaffected on entrance exams
2013-October-24 Source: Szdaily web edition
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Shenzhen city’s education bureau said the English test on Shenzhen’s high school entrance exam is still on equal footing with other subjects, such as Chinese and mathematics, even though some cities are planning to reduce the English test’s weight.

The bureau made the statement in a draft plan it released this week for public opinion.

According to the draft, English is still one of the three “major” subjects on the entrance exam and will continue to have a top score of 100, as do the Chinese and math tests.

But that situation is likely to change in Beijing. A draft plan revealed in Beijing on Tuesday states that the total score for the English test will be lowered from 120 to 100 for high school entrance exams and from 150 to 100 for college entrance exams, starting in 2016.

In contrast, the top score for the Chinese test will be increased from 120 to 150 on Beijing’s high school entrance exams, and from 150 to 180 on college entrance exams.

The change is being described as one of a series of measures to relieve burdens on students, but English test’s weight became a subject of heated debate after the draft was unveiled.

“Frankly speaking, Shenzhen students spend 12 years learning English before taking a college entrance exam. They spend a lot of time, but the result isn’t satisfactory. They can only grasp 3,000 words,” Shenzhen Education Science Institute teacher An Fengqi, who is responsible for English instruction in junior middle schools, said yesterday. “The main reason is our education system. Learning English is test-oriented, instead of application-oriented.”

Shenzhen’s education bureau has made no plans to discuss whether to weaken the weight of English tests on entrance exams. An said such plans are unlikely in the near future because the bureau would need an objective test to evaluate students’ English-language abilities if they were to initiate a change. An official with Guangdong examination department said the weight of English on college entrance examinations in 2014 won’t be changed in Guangdong Province.

Last month, Wang Xuming, former spokesman for the Ministry of Education, called for the scrapping of English classes in primary schools to make way for additional Chinese lessons. Wang argued that the zeal for learning English was so strong that it was hurting students’ knowledge of Chinese. Some parents supported Wang’s idea, saying the top priority for students, in terms of languages, should be full proficiency in Chinese, the mother tongue.

In the eyes of many parents, though, learning English is a “passport” for promising jobs in the future and the chance to study abroad.

“English is a bridge to the world. If schools cut the lessons, I will add more English classes for my child at training centers,” said a mother surnamed Hou in Nanshan District.

Hou said she plans to send her daughter, a sixth-grader in primary school, to the United States to study in the future.

A teacher surnamed Hu at Qianhai Middle School said an English-speaking test should be added to entrance exams, to promote oral lessons that will be applicable to students’ futures.

“Many students have learned English for 10 years, but cannot speak well. That is the problem with our teaching and testing system,” Hu said.

“Students have spent too much time learning grammar. This kind of test-oriented English is of little use in real life,” a Weibo user added.

In a recent online survey by sina.com, 70.6 percent of the 2,247 nationwide respondents supported lowering the importance of English on entrance exams. Only half of respondents, though, thought such a measure would ease burdens on students learning English. More than 65 percent of respondents said they had learned English only to pass tests.

The use of English came into prominence in China in the 1980s, following the country’s reform and opening-up policy. Since then, English, Chinese and mathematics have become “major” subjects, with English tending to dominate the other two.


Editor: Olivia
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