7 million and still counting

   Date:2010/05/12     Source:

A top private institution gears its English classes for people who want to go overseas

There is no such thing as failure in learning English, only half success, said Dai Yun, a teacher at an educational services company that specializes in English language test preparation.

"Teachers have the responsibility to inspire students' passion for learning and encourage them to break their limitations for learning English," said Dai.

A teacher at a key public university in Beijing for four years, Dai began his career at New Oriental Education and Technology Group, a leading English training school geared toward test-takers in China.

He has taught more than 400,000 students from 6 to older than 60 years old in classrooms and via the Internet since joining New Oriental in 2000. He focuses on instruction in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

New Oriental's primary emphasis is English training for students pursuing an overseas education.

The market for English-language test preparation is growing at 30 percent each year in China, said Yu Minhong, president of the Beijing-based group.

The school operates about 300 branch centers across China and plans to add 200 next year, a growth clip far exceeding its rivals.

The company, founded in 1993, has taught seven million students as of December 2008.

Course prices range from 50 yuan for a six-hour tutoring session to 200,000 yuan for an intensive three-year program for individuals who wish to study abroad.

Yu said the global financial crisis has had little impact on the education industry, thanks to the resilient wallets of Chinese parents.

"They intend to save money and pay for their kids' education," said Yu.

Yu believes that good teachers are the foundation of the school's success.

Though he has some doubts about the quality of English teaching in some public universities, Dai holds a balanced opinion.

"Public universities provide structured long-term courses and build up basic English skills for students," Dai said.

"But our school focuses more on what students really need in a short period, such as getting a high score on the TOEFL. We aim at helping them to set a clear goal and then achieve it."

Addressing the school's teaching methods, Dai said: "Everything needs to be fun. English classes are no exception.

"Teachers at New Oriental always think of a funny way to impress the students to help them remember," he said.

In comparison, public university teachers usually teach according to textbooks, which can be dull because students can read the textbooks themselves, he said.

Laughter is an important ingredient of New Oriental classes.

"They can remember the vocabulary better this way because they are not forced to learn that word," said Dai. "Instead, they unconsciously know that word."

Many students said they enjoy the unique styles of New Oriental's teaching staff.

"Some teachers are stylish, some are knowledgeable, some have special life experience, but most of them are humorous and know what and how to teach," Li Jiansen, a college student, told METRO.

Hou Na, another student, said she looks forward to her Saturday courses.

"Trying to attract students by being charming is not the final goal of our teachers," said Dai.

"Our real goal is to arouse students' enthusiasm for learning English by arousing their interest in us first."

Dai has corrected 50,000 student compositions during his teaching career.

He jokingly said that he might be the teacher who has corrected the most English compositions in China.Those compositions, he believes, offer the best way to know students' precise language problems and to correct them.

When it comes to English grammar - Dai focuses more on how to use proper grammar to make sentences.

"Never waste students' precious time on learning something they don't need," said Dai.

Dai said many of his students are impressive. One, a high school student named Liu Ying, was an international mathematics Olympiad winner. She attended one of Dai's classes in 2005. Her English level was below middle school standard at the beginning.

After three months of hard work, Liu got a nearly perfect score on the TOEFL. She was admitted to Harvard University with full scholarship.

Some students are ashamed to speak English even though they have excellent reading and writing skills. They think their Chinese accent sounds silly.

Dai encourages them by saying: "Listen to the oral English of the former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and the current one, Ban Ki-moon."

Their oral English is not as strong as that of native English speakers but it has not barred them from greatness, he stresses.

"Language is for communication" and "laziness is the only reason for not learning English well," Dai said.

"It is important to make the teaching practical and useful for the students, because no matter what kind of teaching approach we employ, the only standard for a good teacher is whether his students have mastered the knowledge," Dai said.

 

 

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