Why is the Chinese government discouraging learning our language?by Helen Gao / June 19, 2014 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2014 issue of Prospect Magazine
“Stopping English lessons is the same as building the Great Fire Wall for our internet… It’s a step backward, motivated by political conservatism.” © Rex Pe
In April, I started a job teaching English to two Chinese employees at the Beijing branch of a multinational company. I imagined my students would be recent graduates, around my age, and eager to learn how to actually speak the language they have spent their life studying. It turned out, however, that Ken and Margaret are both in their 40s, hold senior positions at the company, and speak confident English, if slightly accented.
With a firm handshake, Ken, a new hire at the firm, told me he wanted to improve his English pronunciation so that his European colleagues would not “mistaken me as a junior-level employee.” Margaret explained that before “selling my company to international clients, I would like to sell myself.” Both Ken and Margaret stay in the office after 10pm on weekdays to take lessons with me.