There’s quite a unique phenomena, for students that are close to me, they all strong in English. Actually what I am teaching is Finance and not English. The fact is that I have not drive away those students that are weak in English, it is them automatically stay away from me.
Nearly all of my close students has passed the College English Test (CET) of Grade 6, some even passed with distinction. And for those that are qualified, the Test for English Majors (TEM) Grade 8 is a must.
I have never sit for such exams but from what I have contacted, a lot of students have passed those exams and some even get high scores, but their performances were quite irregular and uneven. That is some of them are in a very high standard, and some of them are not so ideal. On the other hand, I have also met some student not qualified to sit for the TEM-8, but still their English still shocked me.
Once a student named Catherine gave a presentation on the financial market and her intonation was so poetic and left a deep impression upon me. Immediately she reminded of me the scene in 30 years ago, how I shocked my lecturer with a poetical presentation on Philosophy. The happiest hour of a teacher is that he can pick up a star of tomorrow as how he was picked up many years ago. That was a student in year three of the Bei Jing Foreign Studies University. I have a lot of students from that university but they were from the business school. So I was a little bit waived how come a business school can nourish such a student. At last I got it. She was actually from the Faculty of English. So if you have the actual strength you sure can be admired.
Another student was strong in written English, that I shown her homework to the whole class and ask the class to learn from her which as known as Candy. Her undergraduate was in Harbin a postgraduate in the Poly U of HK. She’s really in the business school. A few months later, when I helped her to revise her CV for job hunting, I learned that she has won the second prize in the nation wide English contest in mainland China. Up till now, she is the only student that I shown the homework to the whole class to learn from it. Again, if you have the actual strength you sure can be admired. She is not qualified to sit for the TEM-8 because she is not in the English faculty and the former one was too young to sit for it at that time.
That is the best standard of English I have met from my students were non-TEM-8 students.
As for CET-6 too many of my students have already passed this block, so it seemed not like a block. May be in other scope of social activities they are superb, but too many stars around me is a fact that seemed not so prominent. How about the TEM-8, I cannot feel great shock and only surprise and consolation that someone teaching Chinese can have a high standard of English. In Hong Kong, Chinese means Chinese Literature and is taught to Chinese people, but in mainland Chinese is very often a language taught to foreigners. So for students learning Chinese, the standard of mainland in spoken English is much higher than those in Hong Kong.
But what I have realized does not completely like that. Students that passed the TEM-8 are not so superb as envisaged, why ? Not because of the exam, but of the individual. That means their prime time has already gone with the exam. Before the exam, they might spend 3 – 6 months for preparation and some even more time; from morn till night and night till morn. A vivid youth became a book worm. Everything in the mind is concerning the syllabus. But as soon as the block is passed, everything passed away also. That is why people complain students sometimes study for exam rather than for themselves. For after the exam, whether the standard can be keep up, it depends on the environment. When one lives in an environment that does not need the demand of the exam, one’s standard surely would go backward.
Owing to the internationalization of China, nowadays you can find an ideal English learning environment in mainland more often than past times. But the problem is that you still have to keep it up. Otherwise when you leave that environment, everything will go back to zero. As for those who wish to find a job in Hong Kong, I strongly recommend them to take the TOEFL or IELTS. English in Hong Kong is more important than mainland. There are a lot of foreign firms and organizations in Hong Kong. They require a high standard of English for admission. They would not know what is TEM-8 and CET-6; they only know TOEFL and IELTS. It is a fact.
In Chinese we have a saying of learning is like sailing a boat against the stream, but in western countries, their saying is there’s no royal road to learning. The Chinese saying implies that if you don’t go ahead, you will be forced backward; but the western saying implies that all the way it’s very hard and you can hardly have a rest.
Learning is a life long task and should be given up after the exam !
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