Updated: 2013-09-24 07:15

(China Daily)

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Give Chinese language its due

Comment on "Publisher: No English lesson for kids" (China Daily website, Sept 10)

Wang Xuming, the publisher referred to in the article, has a valid reason to think that the Chinese language is losing its importance, because students and job hopefuls seem to enjoy undue advantage in China's academic and employment circles.

Almost all English-speaking countries ensure that people visiting, let alone seeking even temporary residence for studies or employment, have a good working knowledge of the English language.

There is nothing wrong in teaching English just as another subject. But people with a good knowledge of English should not get undue preference over those with no or little knowledge of the language in the job market.

India could not succeed in such an endeavor because the language it tried to push (as a substitute for English) at the expense of other regional languages was Hindi. Hindi was either not understood or derided as a language of central and north India by people in the whole of southern and a large part of eastern India. Ultimately, English won (by default in the absence of a true national language) and became the official language accepted by the majority of Indians and, unfortunately, a reminder of their subservience to the language of their former colonial masters.

China is different from India because it has a national language, which is something it should be proud of.

If China devises its policies well, it could prompt people in other countries, especially those who have dealings with China, to learn Chinese. But in order to have a language policy at the international level, China must first ensure that the Chinese language gets its due importance in the academic and employment fields within the country.

I don't know whether people in China treat English speakers as superiors. But if that is the case, the practice should be discouraged.

KIyer, on China Daily forum

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(China Daily 09/24/2013 page9)