Houston Community News >> Chinese Tutoring English Through Newspaper

7/25/2007-- The “Beijing Evening News” prints one English sentence everyday following government’s order to tutor English to the millions of Chinese citizens.

For millions of Chinese, English is a gateway to the rest of the world which would come knocking at their doors with Beijing 2008 Olympics starting next year.

All leading newspaper in China have started painstaking task of tutoring English, sentence by sentence, Press Trust of India (PTI) reports.

“We have asked all newspapers to publish one sentence, or a paragraph, everyday, for the Chinese to learn English before the start of the Games,” Sun Weide, Deputy Director, Beijing Organising Committee for the Games of XXIX Olympiad, told the Indian news agency.

“Our experience is different from India. Here we have to make extra effort to learn English. We are developing software for translation and trying to standardize it,” Weide admits.

He said the government is promoting English tutorial classes in every locality for all age groups, so as to help people to be well prepared before the start of the Games.

But the optimism of Weide is not strongly supported by the situation on the ground.

With exception to some highways, the signage's of hotels, departmental stores, roads, buses, and almost everything under the sky, are only in Chinese sans English translation - making even small tasks frustrating for the tourist.

On the streets - even as the Games draw near - one hardly comes across a local who can understand English, much less converse.

At a glitzy Dongdan Santiao street in Beijing, the salesgirls in a mobile handsets showroom giggle and hide behind each other if you ask them in English if they sold Sim-card with Internet connection.

Front desk girls in hotels do have foreigner-friendly English first names - such as Nancy, Mary or Angela, printed on the name plates - instead of their actual Chinese. But very few can actually converse in English.

However, the linguistic odds have not dampened the spirit of the Chinese people to learn the language.

About 800 miles south-east in Shanghai, a girl sitting on the counter of ’English First’ institute in Fuzhon Street, answers with great elan the queries of boys and girls beelining to join the institute to learn English.

A larger-than-life Beijing Olympic billboard at the facade of the building displays a distinctly Chinese looking girl and blonde haired man in bondage with their hands tied by the rope.

Captions read: “Private tutor for teaching English, 24 hours” and

“China is Making a Dialogue With the World.”

The promotional booklets at the counter make their point by their title: “English Bosses Love to Hear.”

However, Chen who disagrees very few young Chinese can speak English, said: “Many of them do speak English, but they hesitate. If you speak clearly and slowly many can understand and talk.”

“Unlike past, more and more Chinese boys and girls are now learning English,” Chen said.

English First is the Official Language Training Services Supplier of the Beijing Olympics. Not just the students, EF is also training Chinese judges, referees, interpreters and organizers preparing for the Olympics.

Weide observes the successful staging of Olympics “hinges crucially” on ability of Chinese to converse with foreigners who come to see the Games and also visit China destinations.

The demand for English teachers is also increasing day by day, as evident from the ads floated on the websites and the newspaper commercials.

English First has already more than 80 schools spread over 50 Chinese cities. In view of growing demand, the number of schools is expected go up to 200 before the start of Olympics in August 2008.  

(Contributed by NSTOnline.com)