English learning still figures prominently in education
Among the most talked-about topics in foreign language education in China in 2014 were the reform of English requirements for college entrance tests, the proper priority for English and the drafting of a national standard setting a value on foreign language education, according to a recent report.
National Research Center for Foreign Language Education at Beijing Foreign Studies University compiled the annual report of China's foreign language education and released it earlier this month.
The debate on English test reform in college entrance exams ended in September 2014, when the State Council outlined a plan under which the Chinese language, English and math would be equally weighted. Before, some worried that English was losing its status in the country's educational thinking.
Xu Hao, a researcher at the center and one of the authors of the report, said some of the hot topics have influenced this year's foreign language education.
"Based on the overall review of foreign language education in China last year, we noticed that regardless whether it was basic or advanced foreign language education, all regions face practical challenges, including unbalanced development and diversified needs," Xu said.
"So it's important for local education bodies and students to explore the most suitable methods."
The Korean language provides one example. More universities and colleges added elective courses for students gradually - beyond traditional listening, speaking, reading, writing and translating. Korean language majors at Shandong University put more emphasis on general education and cultural competency.
The School of Arabic Studies at Ningxia University also revised its education plan, establishing cooperation with other schools in economics and management, political science and the humanities. Students would study language, diplomacy, finance, law and tourism in the first two years, and then be sent to Arabic countries for another two years.