Manage episode 49482410 series 32893
Besides, workers also must pass a national foreign language test to get higher rank. This year, the test of English language took place on last Saturday and once again it was criticized by millions of examinees who that it’s a waste of time and social resources.
Why is it that people are complaining? Do you think the test itself is problematic?
LY: Well, I think if you are not actually someone who does use English quite often. For example, if you’re just a teacher who teaches history, why bother? I do understand why people are frustrated because after all this is China and English is fairly… Well, to be fair it’s not that often used.
JA: Yeah, I mean, I would say for most people, and most jobs, English is basically completely unimportant. So, I think that if we look at the test itself, it was introduced in 1998 and actually examinees can choose from a basket of different languages, one of which is English. There’s Japanese, Russian, German, French, and Spanish although, I think most people are still going to choose the English exam, mostly because if you’ve graduated from university that means you’ve had 12 years of English education already. But, really, I think that Liuyan hit the nail on the head here, where for most professions, it’s just not necessary. I mean, like, look if you’re a radio host for an English radio station that’s, obviously that should be part of any kind of professional certification that you’re getting. But if you’re, you know, an engineer or some kind of mechanic or something like that, unless you’re doing business globally, there’s really no reason to be tested on English whatsoever.
XH: Yeah, it does seem that a lot of our daily lives doesn’t have a lot to do with English, but even for those who, for whom English may be a plus or maybe a necessary skill, there’s still, I think, a lot of complaints as to why this test within, you know, among all tests should be the required one.
LY: Yeah, I think they do not like this test even if English is part of their job. One of the major reasons is that it’s just not very accurate in terms of reflecting your true English abilities, because a lot of the current test is basically just if you can gather previous test examples, then you can recite all the answers and then you can do fairly well, whereas if you don’t do that, you don’t get a very good score. But, in reality, the person who doesn’t get a good score may actually speak very good English and it just doesn’t reflect that in the test.
JA: Yeah, that’s a problem of most language testing in China in general. If we look, just purely at the English curriculum, all the way from primary to university level education, it is not based around, you know, teaching you how to actually communicate in that language. Rather, it has more to do with just memorizing whatever the correct answer is. If we look at people who get the best scores on gaokao in English or get the best scores on their English exams in middle or high school, you’ll find that they’re not necessarily actually good at communicating. And, so, I think if we look at this test, it’s just really kind of a continuation of that. It is actually interesting, why is it…, it’s been around since 1998 and pretty much since 1998, it’s gotten a lot of flak, I mean, everyone who takes it is like “This is stupid.” Now, the next question is, why is it still there? And it really does look like, part of the reason could be it’s a huge money maker. If you think about it, the fee to take the exam is 40-50 RMB depending on where you are. Then, the textbook for the exam costs about 35 RMB. It doesn’t seem like a lot of money per person, but if you extrapolate that out and we’re looking at millions across the country taking this exam and preparing for it, that’s a lot of money to be made by the publishers and by the people, the organizations administering the test.
LY: I think that’s exactly right, because in 2013 about 70,000 people took part in the test in Sichuan province alone and this year, almost 25,000 people in Qingdao alone. So, if one city alone can have that many people who have to take this test just imagine nationwide. This is a huge amount of money. And, of course, they’re not willing to let it go.
XH: Exactly, I think the main thing is not because the fee itself is expensive; it’s because that it’s so compulsory for anyone who want to get promoted or who want to advance in their careers, because if you talk about, for example, another test, the Public English Test system, that’s also national and you can take that at whatever level and anyone take it. But, then it’s not compulsory for, say, getting a job, or entering a multinational. But, this one, as long as you’re in the sort of government, public system and you want to go up the career ladder, then you have got to take it.
JA: Well, no, I also think it’s funny because you mentioned multinationals and I think that, you know, many multinational firms, as part of their recruitment process, they might look at your IELTS score or your TOEFL or any other English based score, but bottom line when they call you in for an interview, they’re automatically going to be able to tell how good your English is, how well you can actually speak. In the end, when you’re applying for a multinational, these kinds of tests, again, in terms of a baseline, yeah, okay get a good score, but really, I mean, it’s not necessarily going to really help you with, when you’re, you know, the final 10 candidates or whatever.