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Speakers explore whole-person development

By Xing Yi in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-23 07:49

English education should not only include language training, but also character development and key competencies for the development of the "whole person", experts said during the 2018 TESOL China Assembly, which concluded on Sunday.

The three-day event in Shanghai was the first time the TESOL International Association, an English-language teaching organization from the United States, had held its assembly in China. The event attracted more than 1,800 teachers from home and abroad who listened to experts' speeches and panels, and participated in discussions.

In his keynote speech "Reconceptualizing Communication - Going beyond Language and Culture", Gong Yafu, director-general of the National Association of Foreign Language Education at the Chinese Society of Education, said the focus of China's English education should shift from language ability to whole-person development.

"Really good communication depends not only on what we say, but also on our value system and behavior," said Gong, who has more than 30 years' experience in the teaching profession.

"Therefore, as teachers, we need to think about what character strengths and qualities students need, and what mindset and thinking skills they will require in the future," he said.

"Maybe it's time for TESOL to consider changing its name from 'Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages' to 'Teaching English to Students for the Orientation of Life,'" he added, with a smile.

Gong suggested a change in the content, approach and assessment of language education to include the teaching of problem-solving skills and good behavior, as well as helping students develop good qualities and critical thinking.

In fact, the change started in January when the Ministry of Education published a new regulation called "English Curriculum Standards for General Senior High Schools".

Mei Deming, professor of English and linguistics at Shanghai International Studies University and chief designer of the standard, said the new curriculum was designed to develop students' key competencies in the areas of linguistic ability, quality of thought, cultural consciousness and learning capabilities.


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