Less English, More Chinese for Gaokao College Entrance Exams

Chinese student at desk.

Chinese student at desk.

From Phoenix Online:

Beijing’s 2016 Gaokao College Entrance Examination: 100 points for English, 180 for Chinese

According to information from CCTV, the Beijing Educational Examinations Board has indicated that the point value of Chinese and will be increased and the point value for English decreased for the Gaokao College Entrance Examination, that the English test can be taken twice a year, and if you, for example, get 100 points in the first year of high school, then you can be exempted from English courses in the second and third years.

Beijing City Gaokao Reform — 2016 Beijing GaoKao: Point Value of the English Subject Reduced From 150 to 100 –The Beijing Municipal Education Committee revealed today the key points for the 2016 Gaokao reforms: 1. Chinese increased from 150 to 180 points; 2. English decreased from 150 to 100 points; 3. Arts and Sciences overall increased from 300 to 320 points; 4. Mathematics remains unchanged at 150 points. (CCTV reporter Zhang Weize)

Chinese student cram studying for the annual university entrance exam.

Below is a translation of the poll and results on Phoenix Online asking “What are your views on Beijing’s Gaokao reform?“. There were over 220k respondents at time of translation (screenshot).

1. Do you support Beijing’s 2016 gaokao reform plan?
  • Support. The emphasis on Chinese studies should be reflected in the proportion of points.
  • 82.82% 181,960 votes
  • Oppose. The trend towards internationalization requires possessing an education system with an international field of view, so English language education must not be relaxed.
  • 13.55% 29,7782 votes
  • Hard to say.
  • 3.63% 7,971 votes
    2. With the weighting of English decreased, will you have your children reduce or abandon learning English?
  • Yes. The gaokao is about comparing points, so energy should be distributed towards the subjects with more points.
  • 31.1% 66,846 votes
  • No. Learning English is for having another skill, not for points on the gaokao.
  • 63.77% 137,059 votes
  • Hard to say.
  • 5.13% 11,015 votes
    3. Do you support lowering the point value for English and increasing the point value for Chinese?
  • Support
  • 82.79% 152,400 votes
  • Oppose.
  • 13.17% 24,244 votes
  • Indifferent.
  • 4.03% 7,422 votes
    4. With regards to the subject of English, do you approve of the change from testing once to testing multiple times a year?
  • Approve.
  • 82.66% 151,825 votes
  • Disapprove.
  • 17.34% 31,860 votes
    5. Will the multiple testings of English per year increase the burden on exam takers?
  • Yes.
  • 35.62% 64,467 votes
  • No.
  • 64.38% 116,503 votes
    6. After this reform, will you continue to enroll your children in extracurricular tutoring?
  • Yes.
  • 47.11% 84,858 votes
  • No.
  • 52.89% 95,277 votes
    7. Do you think this gaokao reform will truly reduce the burden on students?
  • Yes.
  • 49.76% 90,870 votes
  • No.
  • 50.24% 91,763 votes

    Comments on Phoenix Online:


    I think this kind of rigid decreasing the points of one subject and increasing the points of another subject is itself undesirable. Some people are naturally talented when it comes to languages, and the decrease in English will no doubt greatly affect them. Some people have no natural talent when it comes to literature or language, but are extremely talented in the sciences, and their weak subjects will undoubtedly split most of their energy/focus. Actually, since the beginning of history, those who are [considered] geniuses or who ultimately achieved great accomplishments, which one of them weren’t talented in a specific area? The blind pursuit of cultivating all-rounded talent ultimately results in the majority being mediocre. In all its years, China’s education system has rarely produced ground-breaking talent and “Chinese creativity/innovation” remains to this day a mere slogan. I think the form of the gaokao itself needs major changes, not just slight adjustments of the points.


    In addition: foreign languages themselves are tools for communication. Testing should be further divided into vocal interpretation and written translation.
    If more importance is attached to Chinese, please don’t go playing word games. Please take a look at our publications: how many are with depth and how many are worthy of collection?


    English education needs to be kept, so those who have long-term views and high ambitions are granted with learning opportunities at all times.
    The government’s thinking as it promotes vocational education is probably that the country needs more talent in high technology, but what it needs more at the moment are skilled workers of a certain level. The existence of English in the gaokao is throttling/blocking many people not good at English from moving forward [in their educations], and at present, the vast majority of people in China do not need or basically do not need to use English, so English has become an obstacle to the further education of students of the sciences.


    Parents spend large amounts of money just to have their children learn a language without much use, wasting large amounts of manpower and material resources, and wasting large amounts of children’s youths. The time spent learning English would be better spent letting them play more! No such emphasis is given to other foreign languages, but there’s never a lack of foreign language talent in our country, is there? English education just offers a money-making opportunity for certain social institutions and teachers. For everyone else, it’s really not of much use!


    Gaokao is an examination for basic subjects. How has mastering a foreign language (especially English) become a basic subject? Foreign languages can only be tested as technical skills in technical exams and obtained by technical training.


    This is a mistake. With gaokao reform, the more reforms, the worse it gets, never reforming the crux of the matter. The key point of gaokao reform lies in a thoroughly reforming the area of admissions. Everything else is bullshit.

    凤凰网四川省成都市网友 迷失的落日

    The shortcomings of Chinese education and the emphasis on foreign languages have no so-called causality. The shortcomings of Chinese education merely indicates a major failure of China’s education system. English education is of great importance. Some people say that after so many years of learning English, it is totally useless except when watching movies, but that simply shows you don’t use it well. Many translated documents inevitably carry the thoughts of the translators, and it is the original primary sources that best reflect the original thoughts. If you want to extend the width and depth of your knowledge, such reading ability is a must. In this respect, can you say English is useless?


    Don’t waste some of our talented people just because of another country’s language.


    English in fact has no actual practical value for many people, because it’s never used except at work. Those who want to learn it can learn it, and if not, don’t. That would be better.


    Promoting English is education for Chinese traitors!!!!


    This should be carried out throughout the whole country. China’s education system is ultimately examination-oriented education. Beginning with elementary school, the students are extremely tired, the courses extremely difficult, and many of the things learned are simply useless in the future for their lives, work, and development. The English problems Chinese students have to learn can’t even be solved by British students, so sad.


    Having the entire county learn English is a strategic mistake, wasting valuable time that could be spent learning knowledge for students. In the USA and UK, science is highly developed, but English is not a science. If we want to learn their science and technology, we can use translations. There’s no need for each and everyone to learn English.


    So funny. In a country where English has been a weakness, instead of thinking how to improve the teaching methods, so that the most widely used language in the world can be mastered by the general population, it instead think of this idea and gives it the pretty name of “reform”. Truly hilarious!


    English can be reformed, but there’s no need to add more burden to the Chinese subject. No burdens alleviated after all!


    Without a scientific, systematic reform in the aspects of education and society, burden alleviation will just be the a beautiful lie for the umpteenth time. From the authorities responsible for the administration of education to Xinhua bookstores (state-owned bookstore) to the relevant interest groups, they obtain huge profits out of organizing exams, publishing reference books and assessment of academic titles. A reform of education must first of all touch upon the original interests that drive these interest groups.


    Let go of the conservative local protection policy [different tests for different areas], and have the entire country have a truly uniform/standardized national examination, with the same essay topics and the same admissions [criteria]! That’s the only right way to go!!!!


    Written by Tanya


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