Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Crazy English? Or Crazy education system?

To follow up my post about Chinglish, I've notice an article about Crazy English, which is providing English training for the Olympics.

Crazy English? How come I've never heard of that? Even though I've got perfect score on TOEFL back then (that's wasn't difficult, I prepared for a week), and judging by the years of its operation I should have known of.

If we don't have patience to read through the whole article, you are not missing much. The teaching approach was mainly of motivating and making students shout out loud in English and pleasing crowd with stupid banters like “One-sixth of the world’s population speaks Chinese. Why are we studying English? Because we pity them for not being able to speak Chinese!” by its Oprah-going-crazy style leader.

I remember days when we tuned in to BBC news lying in our bed after lights-out in our college days. Back then, English films and books weren't widely available in China as today. We would jam into a hall watching a tiny overhead TV to watch God Father or a room with view. We would rely on English rare visits by visiting professors and self-formed informal groups to practice speaking. We learned English just fine.

Now, English material is as readily available as ever. Yet you see gimmickry program like Crazy English, from which I'm not even sure proper English can be learned, gets more popular. It probably just shows that education market is huge in China, you are destined to get rich even if you can only manage to get a very small slice out of the state-controlled system.

Maybe it's not Crazy English, it's China's crazy education system that has failed. As for the Olympics, doesn't it take some of the foreign mystiques away if everyone in Beijing speaks good English?

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1 comment:

  1. I interviewed with Crazy English a while back for their summer program (pays really well). The concept is good: speak English with confidence. It's the execution of the concept that doesn't work. They actually encourage students to go up to any foreigner they see and shout "Hello!" I've learned to ignore anyone who tries to talk to me on the streets.