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Perceptions Of China English

By Author: Arsenalo
Total Articles: 116

In contrast to 'standard' English, some participants hold the following opinions on China English:
China English is just a joke. It is only used when people make fun and tell jokes (Male, 21, 5 months). It [China English] would not be understood by foreigners (Male, 20-25, 5 months).

The majority of the participants also shared the view that English was primarily a tool for international communication: because most of the countries in the world are English-speaking countries, if we want to be understood by people in other countries, we need to know English for international communication (Male, 23, 5 months). Many people can speak English and many countries are English-speaking for example Japan (Female, 25-30, 6 months). English is most Replica Watches widely used, a lingua franca for non-English speaking countries, we can communicate with much more people even if we don't know each others' mother language (Female, 22, 5 months). Although English is viewed as universal in institutional discourse, some participants did express their interest in Western culture as a reason for learning English. This appears to be a mismatch between the institutional and learners' discourses of English which, however, is not addressed in this article.

Apart from being a universal modern skill, English is also a tool to let the world know about China in both the institutional and learners' discourses. One article from the People's Daily remarks that Despite the neutral role ascribed to English as a universal modern skill, this role of English as a tool to let the world know about China is a somewhat nationalistic one. The evolution of Chinese history, culture and civilisation was presented to the world in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. The ceremony itself highlighted the four great inventions of gunpowder, compass, paper and printing, and the traditional Chinese value of harmony introduced to the world the greatness and rise of the country (Shuang, Wang & Gao, 9 August, 2008:1). Not only is English a tool to know about the world for China, as Orton (2007) illustrates, it is also a desire for China to show its glorious past and intention for harmonious international relations to the international community. To achieve this aim the universal tongue, i.e. 'standard' English, is the best vehicle.

Three out of the ten participants pointed out the role of English as a tool to let the world know about China. One participant, for example, asserted that: It [English] is definitely useful no matter for whom...we need to Omega Replica Watches introduce Chinese to the West by learning English. English is useful for everyone to introduce China's greatness to the West... just like some of the great inventions in China. Western people think they invented them but actually China had invented them a few centuries earlier (Female, 25, 2 years and 6 months). Interesting enough, this participant's comment on the four great inventions of ancient China was made before the Opening Ceremony. The reclamation of China's international status appears to be a common goal of the government and the public. One participant seemed concerned about Westerners' false perceptions of China and said: 'Westerners still have some misunderstandings about China. We need to learn English to tell them about China.'

Both the institutional and learners' discourses about English, as the study has shown, describe English as a universal skill for modernisation and international communication, as well as a tool to let the world know about China. 'Standard' American (and to a lesser extent, British) English is the preferred variety to learn and use as, on the one hand, it is the best vehicle to learn modernisation; and on the other hand, it is not regarded as associated with a particular culture. The list of the ascribed roles of English in China as examined in this paper is definitely not conclusive. Future research not only needs to explore students' views in Mainland China, but also overseas Chinese students' attitudes in depth as this group is increasing in number, and many more overseas students return to China after graduation.

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