We Need to Revolutionize Chinese Studying Habits

We Need to Revolutionize Chinese Studying Habits
May 25, 2016 By thabet_sava , eChinacities.com

Bad Habits
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 of 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..

We Need a Revolution
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.

Efficient Language Learning
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.

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Keywords: English revolution pander China learning English


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Most Chinese students, educators, and parents are already aware of the need to overhaul the education system in China. But try to persuade the people at the top when the people at the top think change means losing control. By the time these students reach high school most will give up trying to express their ideas. Parents spend a lot of time checking the homework of their kids who are more interested in the arts than Math and Sciences. Students are forced to spend time in study classes rather than pursuing sports, music or other interests. Of course we (FTs) have heard of the boring syndrome and the constant use of cell phones to play games. This comes from being discourage from pursuing the things they might be interested in when the students were in middle school. The result is what we have now, And yes, the Chinese must change it themselves. As FTs we must adapt and target those who individuals who show promise. The class sizes and the English level discrepancies are to large for us to be able to teach the same way as in North America.

Jan 19, 2017 04:32 Report Abuse



Chinese teachers should look to Finland as a model for their education. The Finnish model stresses the teaching of creativity without the daily burden of homework. This type of education works since it is fun and stimulates the mind.

Jun 01, 2016 17:36 Report Abuse



The last thing China needs is a bunch of unskilled foreigners with degrees in gender studies and other irrelevant disciplines further undermining learning in ESL classrooms. All they're good for is modeling correct pronunciation and basic usage, and providing a bit of entertainment. Leave the rest to the experts in SLA and TESL.

May 30, 2016 09:45 Report Abuse



The author of these "English teaching advise" blogs/articles really grates on me. So much that I decided to make an account to comment. I don't believe in the slightest the author has ever had any formal teacher training. This is what I think the author is... He arrived in China some time ago. Maybe 5 to 10 years ago. He started working in some back water teaching gig. Getting paid a low wage working surrounded by similar people. Before coming to China he studied a very generic subject. Possibly English literature. Because of this he feels that he knows English extremely well. He never had any teacher training. The school put him straight in the classroom with little care as to whether he could teach or not. His enthusiasm for teaching is on and off. He will go through periods of great motivation and loving his job and then periods of genuine despair and hatred for it. He has changed his job several times now having stayed in a school for a few years and then moved on. He still has never had any teacher training but has been teaching for many years and believes that because of this experience he is now qualified to tell others how to teach. Not realising the flaws in his own teaching because he has taught himself everything he knows about teaching.

May 29, 2016 22:22 Report Abuse



A bit too many assumptions, perhaps?

May 30, 2016 09:38 Report Abuse



I got the same impression.

May 30, 2016 12:35 Report Abuse



As a Chinese Student,i think i am qualified to say this.....(Sorry if i write something wrong,please correct the mistakes thank you) 1.Circumstance During Childhood times/school times, English is a test subject requires speaking/reading/listening/writing, with the lack of the atmosphere of English communication(teacher's reading the PPT/books,without any kinds of interaction, in China,courses are usually very boring,students can only listen/answer the question,no further actions are required/encouraged,silence in every corner,talking is restricted. Eventually,everyone dislikes English,the good ones are nerds/alien.......BTW,many parents know nothing about English,you can imagine the situation of a secondary language speaker surrounded by mother language ones.....

May 28, 2016 18:19 Report Abuse



2.Study Habits In China,in order to pass the exam,students have to attend various kinds of tutor lessons. Listening the teachers/finishing the homework/Passing the exam,the rule is simple and correct(Chinese loves following others's,lack of subjective). The outcome is terrible,they seldom use summary to improve themselves, staying together lowers the average level,they read a little books(aside from the necessary ones to pass the exam),the shortage of knowledge is unbelievable.

May 28, 2016 18:19 Report Abuse



3.Tradition In China,many rules exist(some are quite improper). For instance,never start a fight during being bullied/obey everything above you/don't be the first one to do something new etc......... Students don't have much difference,passionate behaviors doom to be punished.. well, these problems explain a lot....

May 28, 2016 18:20 Report Abuse



blah,blah,blah, here comes the Suggestions.....Well, i have no educator experience,just a student.... Pressure/efficiency:1.Divided into groups,leaders hold great responsibility(put huge pressure on them)2.Group competitions(such as the fastest to complete homework/listening test etc...)3.Encouragement while increasing the standard( limited time/group member exchange....) The main point is more pressure they have, the better they are...(step by step)Thank you for reading the whole passage,my Skype:Corta Windsfairy FB:Corta Windsfairy cortahunter@outlook.com

May 28, 2016 18:21 Report Abuse



You actually make a lot of sense. It's the same in my country. People barge in and think they can change everything in the blink of an eye but it's a far more complex system than what it looks like. That being said we welcome change but nobody is willing to set the foundations, they only talk, not do. :(

Jun 02, 2016 13:32 Report Abuse



flash cards lack of efficiency, Chinese children are stubborn,all they need is orders,demonstrate how to do,let them follow,in a developing country,don't expect the same education worked.

May 28, 2016 20:14 Report Abuse



Can you speak a foreign language? Memorization and flash cards do have a place in language learning. If they didn't then language learning software like Rossetta Stone, Memrise, Duolingo and Primsleur wouldn't be so popular. The only real difference is that these apps or programs employ spaced repetition and not just a standard one.

May 29, 2016 21:31 Report Abuse



True, they can't be used as the only form of learning or teaching. They still have a place in language learning though.

Jun 01, 2016 21:42 Report Abuse



correct,in other words, Schools are jails,most produce prisoners,some produce wardens and the society choose better wardens to build jails.

May 28, 2016 19:58 Report Abuse



mindless recitation blocks thought and engagement, the pathway to social unrest!

May 25, 2016 15:56 Report Abuse



you can't expect everyone to be genius,if you can't change the atmosphere,any attempt is another failure.

May 28, 2016 20:17 Report Abuse



The problem is simple and that isn't with the students or the teachers. The problem is at the top. There is a reason that schools that teach foreign curricula like Cambridge secondary are obtaining the highest grades in China. It's simply because the schools who teach these are run by forward thinking and open minded people. They also demand quality and strive to find new ways to improve their grades. Admittedly they are driven by capitalists goals, mainly profits. But they are obviously better than the average school. China's educational revolution should start by removing those at the top who are stuck in their ways and have become lazy to innovative ideas and put new enthusiastic and motivated people in charge. They should implement constant teacher training. With an open environment where people can share their ideas. If these ideas have merit they should be acted upon and implemented. Which would then encourage further ideas being brought forward. Right now it seems like only foreign teachers have ideas and that they get ignored or put down with usually bureaucratic excuses. Given huge lists of rules which don't make sense. Chinese teachers are more than capable of coming up with such ideas but they have been indoctrinated in a society that stamps out forward thinking in fear of people questioning the governments political rule. This fear is holding China back.

May 25, 2016 15:24 Report Abuse



agreed,the system had lasted centuries,you can't change it..... It's quite desperate,helping the interested student may give you relief...

May 28, 2016 20:27 Report Abuse



The first word "we" is totally wrong. There is no "we" in this. A foreigner coming in and telling them what to do, when not invited to do so, only triggers the stubborn side of them and they often do the total opposite. I agree with you that Chinese studying habits are ineffective and need to change, but the change can not come from you, it needs to come from themselves. Many Chinese people have said to me that they often don't like foreigners because they have a superiority complex. They feel like they can just walk into China and tell the locals that everything suck's and how to improve it, despite not understanding a fraction of the forces at play and why things are like they are. This is perfectly exemplified by this article. The first step in effecting change is for the people to understand that change is needed. As that is currently not there all you're doing is creating animosity towards yourself and your fellow foreign teachers.

May 25, 2016 14:18 Report Abuse



So Chinese society doesn't understand that change is needed, but foreigners shouldn't tell them so as not to offend them? It's true that a lot of foreigners (or at least Westerners) are too ready to pass judgment on things when they have only lived in China a short while and don't understand what goes on. But at the same time, a lot of Chinese are far too ready to assume that foreigners know nothing about China, even when they have lived in China for a while and speak the language. So prejudice goes both ways.

May 26, 2016 10:56 Report Abuse



totally agree

May 26, 2016 11:46 Report Abuse



Sometimes Chinese teachers ask the foreign teachers about their ideas and opinions but they never learn or change. and if the foreigner tells them his opinion without being asked they see it as an offence. why can't they mingle and learn from each other,, why there is always a barrier between foreigners and Chinese in china?

May 26, 2016 11:53 Report Abuse