The Beijing Municipal Education Commission proposed education reformsthat will de-emphasize English language curriculum in the gaokao, China’s national higher education examinations. Theproposition aims to relieve pressure on China’s students to master the language and counteracts fears of the English language eventually overtaking Mandarin. The decision was met with conflictual opinions from China’s students, parents, and educators.
Beginning in 2016, Beijing’s English language higher education entrance exams will be reduced from 150 to 100 points while the number of points given to Chinese and mathematics will be increased; English, Chinese, and mathematics currently have the same weighting. An additional recommendation suggests completely removing English language classes from the country’s curriculum before grade three.
According to the Beijing Education Examinations Authority, the adjustments will “focus on English-language application and basic skills, while playing down its selection function.” Li Yi of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education said, “the change highlights the fundamental importance of [the] mother tongue in the curriculum.”
Sang Jinlong, deputy head of Beijing Academy of Educational Sciences explained, “the general public is dissatisfied with a school system that gives emphasis to English over Chinese.”
In contrast, a Chinese citizen reportedly called the proposal a “setback of history” and “complacent and conservative,” and urged citizens to give greater importance to the English language because it “empowers people to communicate with the world by themselves.”
Luo Enze, Beijing high school student, highlighted the positive and negative effects of the decision and said“a drop in the overall scores of English examination means that our English studying workload will shrink, which is good news to many of us. But on the other hand, we may no longer work hard on English, which may have an adverse effect if we choose to have an English major or study abroad in the future. What’s more, students who are good at English may be reluctant to hear the news because they are losing their edge in gaokao.”