A national political adviser's proposal that English be dropped as a core subject for Chinese primary and secondary school students has triggered heated discussion among experts and netizens.
In a proposal to the ongoing two sessions, Xu Jin, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said that English should not be a core subject like Chinese and math and more course hours should be given to improving students' skills in physical education, music and art.
Xu said English and other foreign languages should also not be included as compulsory subjects for the national college entrance exam. While English takes up about 10 percent of class hours, less than 10 percent of university graduates use the language at work, he said.
Moreover, smart translation devices can offer sophisticated translation services and in the age of artificial intelligence, translators will be among the top 10 professions to be eliminated, he added.
His proposal has triggered heated discussion on social media platforms and the hashtag "removing English as a core subject for primary and secondary school students" had been read 120 million times on Sina Weibo, a microblogging platform, as of Sunday.
Some netizens agreed with his proposal and said they had wasted too much time studying English at school and did not use it in their daily lives. Others said the idea is not in line with the country's pursuit of further openness and will likely not be adopted by authorities.
Zhang Lianzhong, a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the Ministry of Education made English a compulsory course from third grade in 2001.
The decision had proved to be a smart one as hundreds of millions of Chinese students have broadened their horizons and improved their cultural awareness and critical thinking ability through learning the language, Zhang said in an interview with Beijing News.
trigger [ˈtrɪɡər] n. 扳机;起因 v. 触发，引起;开动
compulsory [kəmˈpʌlsəri] adj. 义务的;必修的
sophisticated [səˈfɪstɪkeɪtɪd] adj. 复杂的;精致的
eliminate [ɪˈlɪmɪneɪt] vt. 消除;排除
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