Friday, May 01, 2009

What's wrong with Chinese students?

I should probably preface this with the statement that most students are likable enough on a personal level but what I want to write about today are some of the endemic problems. Today is May Day a national holiday. So I have a little time to reflect on this subject. The first problem is that getting into a university can be a real grueling process. Once they are accepted only a few students proceed with the same vigor as before the final test that gets them to the university. I really don't have any knowledge about the rest of the subjects they take but from the perspective of an English teacher I can say that most of the students I have taught at the university level are mediocre at best some are downright pathetic.

I teach the same book in my sophomore class as I teach to a class of 12 and 13 year old students. Needless to say the level is not that difficult considering they have had ten years of English classes. My new class, the freshmen are quite a bit lower than my sophomore class. This means that 75 per cent of them can't respond to a question, listed in the book with a complete sentence. They are so used to fill in the blanks that they treat an oral English class like a test, responding with a one word answer. This happens time and time again even after instructing them that it is not satisfactory, meaning their listening skills are even worse. This is not difficult to understand as their former English teachers teach English in Chinese. The same backwards logic is prevalent in many aspects of their daily life. In my experience Chinese are the most illogical people I have ever come across.

They don't have much choice as they are required to take English to graduate. One major problem with schools in China is that nobody fails at the University. You pay your money you get your diploma, even if you never come to class. So if you are planning on coming to teach here you should realize that the propaganda you here in the west about how great Asian students are is a total crock of, you know what. For my last classes before this holiday 75 per cent had already left for home or decided to have a five or six day holiday from their classes. I literally have some students I don't know who they are as they have attended one class so far this semester. So in reality they are just shipped away from home and it is four years of play time. I can honestly say most students have more interest in their phones than in learning.

Did you know that the best university in China is not in the top 200 in the world? The sad part, or I should say another sad part about this situation is that the men, boys, will probably get the better jobs and the women will get the left overs. Of course this is a generalization but everyone knows there is preference for boys. Speaking of boys and girls, because that is what they are, 19 and 20 year old children, let me give you a picture of what boys are put through here. The one child law produces a sickening kind of doting from mothers that for most westerners are not accustomed to. The mother don't really seem to control them in one way, discipline, and then totally control them in other ways. Producing what we call in the west, Momma's boys. Everything from hand feeding them to accompanying them everywhere, resulting in no independence at all. Perhaps it is just an example of what is expected of them when their parents get older, total responsibility for them. Thank God, my 80 plus parents are still independent and have planned for their future. From what I see most don't have a lot of contact from fathers.

So, what is the product of this system? College grads who have never had a job, don't know how to do anything, have skated through college and are now totally unprepared for life, love and anything else life may throw at them. They will probably will live with their parents until they marry or even after. Of course the "lucky" ones will have their parents give them a place to live, so they wont' really have it much different than in school as some students bought their way into the universities in the first place. They are easy to spot, they have better clothes, never come to class, and attract nice looking women, who then don't come to class either as they know which side their bread is buttered on. The women will probably be divorced by the time they are through bearing children. You can see that life is not much fun when you walk down any street and look at the etched scowls of women and some men who have not been blessed to be born into the elite. The rest are smiling in blissful ignorance of an over extended childhood where everything is just given too them with little responsibility.

Next post, I will get into what kind of capitalism is in China.

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