China’s English skills im­prov­ing, new re­port says

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHAO XINYING zhaoxiny­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The English pro­fi­ciency of the Chi­nese has im­proved since last year but is still at a mid­dle level com­pared with other non-English-speak­ing coun­tries, said a re­port re­leased on Tues­day in Bei­jing.

The rank­ing of the English pro­fi­ciency of Chi­nese rose eight places to 39th among 72 coun­tries and re­gions, ac­cord­ing to the 2016 English Pro­fi­ciency In­dex of the Swedish ed­u­ca­tion com­pany EF Ed­u­ca­tion First.

The English abil­ity of res­i­dents in Shanghai ranked first in China, fol­lowed by that of Hong Kong and Bei­jing res­i­dents, the re­port said.

Cai Ji­gang, an English-lan­guage pro­fes­sor at Shanghai's Fu­dan Univer­sity, said Shanghai has held the lead­ing po­si­tion for sev­eral years, thanks in part to a re­form since 2013 of English lan­guage cour­ses of­fered to all col­lege stu­dents in the city.

Ac­cord­ing to Cai, the aim of col­lege English cour­ses in the past was to help stu­dents pass the Col­lege English Test. “But af­ter the re­form, the cour­ses have fo­cused more on meet­ing stu­dents’ needs in their pro­fes­sional stud­ies, aca­demic re­search and job search,” he said.

The re­port is based on the EF Stan­dard English Test re­sults of 950,000 adults from 72 coun­tries and re­gions. The test de­vel­oped by the com­pany con­sists of read­ing and lis­ten­ing.

In Asia, the English pro­fi­ciency of peo­ple in Sin­ga­pore ranked first, while Malaysia and the Philip­pines also ranked high, it said.

Adults from the Nether­lands are the best English speak­ers among peo­ple from non-English-speak­ing coun­tries, fol­lowed by Den­mark and Swe­den, the re­port said.

Se­bas­tian Mag­nus­son, in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer at the Swedish em­bassy in Bei­jing, said the high English pro­fi­ciency of the Swedish might be the re­sult of an im­mer­sion ap­proach to learn­ing the lan­guage.

In Swe­den, peo­ple learn English not only with text­books or cour­ses at school, but in daily life, such as through TV pro­grams, com­puter games and movies from English-speak­ing coun­tries.

He said this might like­wise help Chi­nese learn­ers to im­prove their English level.

Christo­pher McCormick, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent for aca­demic af­fairs at Ed­u­ca­tion First, said that in China, pro­fi­ciency in English varies greatly from east to west. Shanghai and Bei­jing rank high be­cause they are more en­gaged in­ter­na­tion­ally, he said.

“The chal­lenge is how we bring the rest of the coun­try with them and what can we do na­tion­ally to lift ev­ery­body to the same kinds of op­por­tu­ni­ties for lan­guage learn­ing. That’s a big pol­icy, prac­tice, in­vest­ment and in­no­va­tion chal­lenge,” he said.

LI TIECHENG/ FOR CHINA DAILY

For­eign in­struc­tors teach English to res­i­dents in a com­mu­nity in Jinzhou, Liaon­ing province, in April. The teach­ers were hired by the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

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