English communication skills on decline among Chinese students

May 30, 2013

There is a marked decline in English communication skills among a number of Chinese students planning to study abroad in English-speaking countries, according to the company Zinch China. The company surveyed 25,000 prospective Chinese students, from a grade 8-equivalent age to senior high school students, in unscheduled phone interviews. The survey found that 62% had “poor” or “subfunctional” spoken English, a marked increase from the 38% that fell into this category in a similar survey conducted last year. The report gives several possible reasons for change in spoken English skills, including an increased emphasis on reading and writing abilities, as well as a considerable increase in the number of students interested in studying abroad. The study has implications for universities that recruit heavily in China, as many of these incoming students could need months or years of English language studies before being able to participate in a class discussion. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)