For the most part, the Changchun Friends website is not very active and has been superseded by the Tencent "Wechat" app by the local expat community. This website is maintained sporadically, people may still join and membership is still open, but if you are a spammer, stay away. The archived information here is still useful, but some may be out of date. There are plans to make it more useful for static information in the future. If anyone needs information about Changchun or China, you may post a message and it probably will get a response but not immediately.
Interesting take on the issues being faced. I thought this was particularly relevant
She has seen conditionally admitted students increase their Toefl scores by 30 or 40 points, out of a possible 120, after a summer break, despite no significant improvement in their ability to speak English. Her students, she says, don’t see this intense test-prepping as problematic: “They think the goal is to pass the test. They’re studying for the test, not studying English.”
Huh. Kansas State University! Go Wildcats!
The Chinese English Language teaching system could probably learn a lot from Sesame Street. Think about it. Sesame Street has quite a bit of Spanish language learning. But, do they teach reading and writing first? No, they teach listening and speaking first. That's the natural way to learn a language. Listening first, then speaking, then reading, and lastly, writing. The focus here, in China, is on the reading and writing ... for the exams. Languages are not about exams. Languages are about ability.
When I go back to the States I'm going to visit Kansas State University and speak with a few professors and get in touch with the Chinese student community. I'm intrigued as to what they'll say.
This is very, very true. A realistic picture of the mentality and motivation of learning a language for Chinese people. You can disagree, but it is exam-oriented reality and everything should be and expected to succeed in results. If the results are achieved, the way to success is not that important. Language is not about gradual acquisition of ability here; it is not that enjoyable. It's more about 'decoration' of status and its usefulness in making ultimate results. Unless TOEFL or IELTS can change and be designed extremely intelligently and intellectually, otherwise Chinese agents will still find ways to beat it. If ETS or ESOL feels the need for a more effective assessment system, enter Chinese schools and observe the entire course of language training for age 6-18, you will find an answer.These exams should, in my opinion, target 85% exclusively at those academic areas that Chinese education system in terms of language training fail to cope but should. The conundrum involved here is all about the classroom teaching methods (spoon-feeding, standard answer, memorizing, questioning within the standard range) and of course the general value system that affects outlook on education. Gradually you will find Chinese students' spoken English will improve faster, but their writing( not single grammar and vocabulary areas, but spontaneous flow of thoughts and effective expression of themselves in place of other individuals take much slower time to change).
BTW. I like this Zinch China. This consulting company should be bona fide.
Thank you Charles - an interesting perspective from a Chinese point of view. I think you may be in a minority though!