Teachers, students divided over Gaokao reform plan

2013-10-22 8:57:00 From: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/203691/8431952.html

A plan to reform gaokao, or China's college entrance examination, in Beijing has divided experts, who disagree on whether placing less emphasis on English-language skills is a good idea.

The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education said Monday that the scores for subjects like English and Chinese in Beijing's gaokao will change as of 2016. The overall score of English will drop from 150 to 100, while the total points for Chinese will rise from 150 to 180.

Other regions, including Jiangsu and Shandong provinces and Shanghai municipality, are also preparing their own gaokao reforms.

According to China National Radio, Shandong will cancel the listening part of the English examination in its gaokao.

Some local reports in Jiangsu also said that English may not be included in gaokao in the future, but education authorities later denied those reports, saying the idea was only a proposal.

Education experts have sharp differences of opinion on such proposals.

Hu Ruiwen, a member of the National Education Advisory Committee, said such a change would be a signal to students that they should pay more attention to their native language than a foreign one.

"Students now are spending too much time studying English," Hu said. "In fact, not all of them will or would like to go abroad."

"On the other hand, their native language is being used in every aspect of their life and work, so it's important for all Chinese students to learn their native language well," Hu said. The changes will also help students learn the Chinese language better, he added.

But Xiong Bingqi, vice-president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, said changing the total points will not affect students' knowledge of those subjects.

"I don't think a rise in the total points of Chinese will encourage students to improve their application ability in Chinese," Xiong said. "Instead, it will only make the students endeavor to score higher in the Chinese examinations."

There are differences of opinion among students and parents as well.

Some applauded the Beijing change, saying it's one way to help relieve the heavy burden of gaokao, while some are concerned it will lead to diminished English proficiency for those who choose to study abroad or work in the future.

Luo Enze, a student of the High School Affiliated to Beijing University of Chemical Technology, said the change has its advantages and disadvantages.

"A drop in the overall scores of English examination means that our English studying workload will shrink, which is good news to many of us," she said.

Sean McNally from Britain teaches Chinese children how to learn English through paintings. Many students in China have trouble learning English and using it in their daily lives. Meng Zhongde / for China Daily


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