I would like to discuss the above topic today. I will call my fellow Mainlander Chinese friends "Mainlanders". I will use the ways Hong Kong (HK) people learn English as a reference to find out where the "problems" are.

I think the problems faced by Mainlanders in learning English as comparing to Hong Kong people are:

  • There are not as many foreilgners whom Mainlanders can practise their English with. Whereas in HK, we have a lot of chances to practise with colleagues, tourists or even foreign domestic helpers (外籍家庭佣工) & etc..
  • There are not as many English resources in Mainland as comparing to HK. Hong Kong is an open society. Such websites like Wikipedia, Wordpress, Google blogs & etc. and TV channels like CNN, BBC & etc. are available in HK. They are excellent sources for researches on English subjects and for learning English.
  • HK is a bilingual city, English and Chinese. We have a lot of chances to be exposed to (接触) English.
  • Many of the people like myself have studied overseas and/or emigrated to overseas.
  • Many of the middle class families (中等收入家庭)send their children to international schools, In those schools many of the students are native English speakers, so the HK children can speak like natives.
  • HK schools start teaching English at kindergarten (幼儿园), but Mainland may be doing so in senior high school.
  • Mainlanders are, relatively speaking, shyer and less likely to speak with foreigners, which is the most important way, or the only way, to learn oral English.
  • The pinyin pronunciation of English alphabets is different from English pronuciation. The preconception (先入为主) has affected Mainlanders' English pronunciation negatively.
  • With respect to Mainland English teachers (我对国内老师十分尊重) I think some of them are not qualified to be an English teacher because there are much much more demands than supplies 滥竽充数  Some of them were not trained to be English teachers. 

Having said the above,  I think the Mainlanders are hardworking and very serious about learning English. I have seen the level of English of my fellow Chinese improved a great deal in the last two years. As a matter of fact, many of my friends are taking English as their major. Their English proficiency is high. Many of them are studying to be teachers. So I can foresee that the standard of  Mainland English teachers will improve a great deal in the future and this will benefit future students too. I am seeing the the gap in English skills between Mainlanders and HK is narrowing. If this trend continues, one day the English proficiency of Mainlanders might surpass HK.

Many of my Mainland friends asked me how to improve their English, I think, first and foremost, is to improve your oral English.It is because there is little time for you to think when you speak English and you need to think in English. Whereas in writing, it gives you more time to think and I think many of my friends think in Chinese and then translated it into English.I do not know of any one, who is good in English, can do it that way. I think you need to aim at the level that you can talk and write with the same proficiency (
出口成章). As a start one should improve his listening skill. I think the CCTV English channel is the best choice. The English of the members of that channel is of international standard. As for improving the spoken English skill one should make good use of the Italki and LiveMocha facilities.
12/2/2010 05:12:48 pm

Advice is seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least.


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