We need to revolutionize Chinese studying habits

We need to revolutionize Chinese studying habits
thabet_sava May 23, 2016 10:04

On my way to class, I watched some students pacing back and forth while repeatedly reciting English words in an attempt to memorize their spelling. I could not resist the temptation to stop and ask few of them about the objectives that they wish to achieve from that trivial exercise.

They indicated that they wanted to learn the English words by heart. Their answer led me to ask them about the success of their previous attempts.

After an instance of silence, they were honest enough to state that they forgot the words that they learned during the previous days.

To investigate further, I asked them to use any of the words that they were reciting in concise, coherent and comprehensible sentences. Unfortunately, they had a hard time coming up grammatically correct and logical sentences. Needless to say, I left them overwhelmed with a feeling sorrow blended with empathy and sympathy toward them.

I discussed the dilemma of being unable to come up with an effective strategy to study any language in general and English in particular, with my students. Discovering that it is common phenomenon among Chinese students, I decided to write this article to help them as well as other students in their struggle through the tedious task of mastering a foreign language..

My logic led to realize that we need to revolutionize the studying habits of our Chinese students. One may ask about the essentiality of that task and the means to accomplish it.

It is a common knowledge that Chinese students lead unbalanced lifestyles due to the lack of time. However, they waste a great deal of their time engaging in useless exercises of attempting to memorize their courses.

Devising an effective strategy to organize their studying habits will, for certain, permits them the opportunity to use their time efficiently. That may lead them to having few hours each day to enjoy other activities and subsequently, acquiring less hatred toward the learning experience.

As for accomplishing the task of revolutionizing their studying habits, according to pedagogic and educational experts, human beings have four learning facilities, speech, sight, hearing and dexterity. Each one of them has its own function.

Speech is used to orally communicate our ideas and needs to others. Sight helps us to recognize and read written material, Hearing allows us to listen to and to be familiar with the spoken words. Finally, dexterity guides us toward finding the proper words to write down or the right keys to press on the keyboards.

Using all of them in studying would facilitate the learning process. To accomplish that, the students should divide an English word into syllables. Then they must recite each syllable loud while spelling it.

To reinforce the knowledge, they should find other words that have syllables with the same sound. Subsequently, the students ought to write the words down. Finally, they use all the words they acquired in sentences of their own.

According to neurologists and scholars, the human brain is divided into two sections, temporary and permanent parts. When a person learns a new word, it is stored in the temporary section. If it is used within a reasonably short time, it is moved to the permanent section. Otherwise, it will be deleted or erased from the temporary section to make room for new words.

Consequently, students must use the words they learn immediately in order to ensure having them stored in the permanent sections of their brains. Of courses, information in the permanent section will be accessible when they are needed.

The latest advanced in science indicated that human beings are unable to focus for a long time due to the complexity of nowadays lifestyles. Therefore, students should organize their studying schedules to allocate reasonable time for each subject without spending hours on one topic or a single learning task.  

Teachers must take the time to help their students with the task of organizing their studying habits. At the beginning of each term, they need to provide their students with guidelines of how to study efficiently to avoid wasting invaluable time on futile exercises of attempting to memorize a subject of interest.

Tags:Expat Tales Expat Rants & Advice Language & Culture Teaching & Learning General


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The writer has eloquently put forth the short comings in the student's learning habits in China and his argument was backed with the scientific statistics (not very sure whether it's viable because there isn't any bibliography). However, I don't think the problem is merely exist in Chinese society rather it's a problem everywhere (specially who is learning new language). I think the cramming vocabulary is not a bad strategy because if we look at the people who is preparing for examinations such as SAT, TOEFL, IELTS , GRE and GMAT etc.. They need to mug up good amount of words (with synonyms and antonyms) to clear the paper. Of course, I wonder how many of the words we will use in our daily life. So, all in all what I want to convey here is, if we want to really improve the student's approach in study method, it should be the system of education that we need to stress and invest our time to improve. Rest is secondary. Let's take an example of native american student; if you ask him the vocabulary of GRE or GMAT, I am skeptical that he/she understand even 50% of it. Through this, I would like to tell my student that follow whatever methods which suit to you, because there isn't special approach which will work for all of us. Like the Chinese saying, "Horse has its path and mule has its own". I don't mean to look down on anyone, but to say, follow your own path (which works you the best). Last but not the least, all the best to your endeavour to us all!

Jul 30, 2016 15:43 Report Abuse



It took you that many words to say nothing. "We need to change!" and all you do is regurgitate well known ideas. Boo Hoo. Also... I wouldn't discourage a student from repeating words. I am learning a second language and repetition is literally the best damn thing. Too bad for your students.

Jul 24, 2016 07:28 Report Abuse



It is really tough to teach international program to Chinese students. I have been teaching Business Management for few years. It is a very difficult job to drive Chinese students from Chinese learning way to western style. Many students want higher grades but don't like to learn. Teaching in China is really challenging for results oriented teachers.

Jul 23, 2016 10:13 Report Abuse



Thats interesting

Jun 24, 2016 14:08 Report Abuse



Honesty just swap to this series of books. I don't work for them and I can't recommend the material higly enough. https://elt.oup.com/catalogue/items/global/young_learners/oxford_discover/?cc=gb&selLanguage=en

Jun 23, 2016 17:34 Report Abuse



This isn't a matter of study habits, but a matter of priorities. A basic spelling test for Chinese students is as useless as forcing foreign Chinese learners to learn characters and then not implement them. A program which encourages these behaviors is just a bad program regardless of the country in which they are implemented. Your points about the neurological underpinnings of learning are correct, but the real issue is that, other than when taking the gaokao, there is virtually nothing which induces Chinese students to develop a (at the very least) functional understanding of English. I was shocked at the number of Chinese people I met who theoretically should have been capable of at least rudimentary communication but were either unable or so embarrassed to try that they never uttered a word in English to me. On the other hand, I've taught students who had developed excellent commands of English in both conversational and academic settings. Just as teaching best practices can be slow to get adopted in the West, they might also take time in the East.

May 26, 2016 03:08 Report Abuse