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China, goodbye English language tests in universities

China, goodbye English language tests in universities

No more English tests. It is the decision of a large and well-known university in northwest China. It is a choice that has been very popular according to comments on the Asian giant’s social media. Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU) has come under the spotlight, including from CNN, which has decided that students will no longer have to take the (nationally standardized) English language test, or any other English language test, in order to pass. He graduated from this university in Xi’an.

This is happening in China during the era of Xi Jinping, who has been in power since 2012 (as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and president since 2013), and who has championed the cause of nationalism. CNN mentions two taboos above all for school and university teachers: the lack of Western texts, and woe to anyone who talks about “Western values.”

China and English

In the Asian giant, studying English in primary and secondary schools has been compulsory since 2001, but for two years the authorities banned primary schools in Shanghai from organizing final English exams. The stated motive is the desire to reduce the academic burden on students.

In China, the College English Test has been in existence since 1987. At most universities in the People’s Republic, it has been necessary for years to pass it in order to graduate. But, CNN highlights again, in recent years, universities have begun to give less importance to the English language, often replacing the college English test with other tests. So we get to choosing Xjtu.

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Social applause for the initiative

“English is important, but as China develops, English is no longer important,” commented one influential nationalist with six million followers on Weibo, convinced that “foreigners should now learn Chinese.” Another comment praising Xi’an University’s decision received a torrent of “likes.” “I hope other universities will do the same,” the letter said.

The “farewell” to English contrasts with what is happening in Taiwan, the de facto independent island that Beijing considers a “rebellious” province and which it wants to “reunify.” The goal here is bilingualism by 2030.