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Foreign language education embraces changes for brighter future

Author  :  Pan Yuefei and Zhang Yixin     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2019-01-20

A high-level forum on the development of foreign language education in China was held in Beijing on Jan. 4. Scholars examined the development of foreign language education in China over the past 40 years since reform and opening up and discussed the outlook for foreign language education in China.

Wang Dinghua, chairman of Beijing Foreign Studies University Council, said that it is important to have a mature foreign language education system which can assist in spreading Chinese culture and promoting China’s interaction with other countries.

Distance learning technology plays an important role in promoting foreign language learning. According to Liu Dailin, a professor at the School of Foreign Languages of the Open University of China, a multimedia learning system for foreign language distance education has taken shape. The system is based on personalized learning and aims to promote comprehensive practical abilities in foreign languages. We will keep updating the talent cultivation model of distance language education to keep up with social demands.

However, the development of foreign language education is not plain sailing. Although foreign language education in China has reached a historic scale since reform and opening up, it faces complex challenges when striving for improvement. Wang Wenbin, director of the National Research Center for Foreign Language Education at Beijing Foreign Studies University, suggested that, when cultivating foreign language talent, the language industry in China should explore approaches to improve the structure and quality of cultivation. Zeng Tianshan, vice president of the National Institute of Education Sciences, said that foreign language education is prone to regional disparities.

Zeng offered some advice on developing foreign language education. First, foreign language learning in rural areas should begin with elementary students. Second, colleges should build common foreign language teaching into a more professional subject. Thirdly, we should promote competency-based foreign language education.

Other scholars also proposed detailed suggestions. For instance, Sun Youzhong, vice president of Beijing Normal University, suggested that, to cultivate foreign language elites who have global vision, colleges should improve the design of the curriculum, so that it not only features language teaching but also encourages students to explore foreign culture, literature and history. At the same time, Ning Qi, dean of the School of Foreign Languages at Peking University, said that foreign language education in China should emphasize Chinese culture and seek to bring it to the world.

Editor: Yu Hui

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