Teaching English In China: Lessons from Teaching at the Chongquing University of Posts and Telecommunications

Wendy Lewis-Rakova



In the school year 1997–98, I was asked to teach English at the University of Posts and Telecommunications (CUPT) in Chongqing. We lived in a small village in the mountains up outside Chongqing, which was beautiful and above the smog, and historical besides. This was where the nationalist government had had its headquarters during World Ware II, and one could visit Chiang Kai-shek’s and Stilwell’s homes as well as numerous foreign embassies. It was a lovely area with resorts for rich Chinese, much easy hiking in beautiful countryside and many sightseeing areas. There were two monasteries in our town, one Buddhist with the best vegetarian food I've ever had, and one Taoist, with the cave where reputedly Lao Tsu had retired to write his poetry.

 Two foreign languages, Russian and English, competed a long time for a prime position in China. The traces of this competition are evident in the not very distant past and can be seen even now. Sun Yat-sen, China’s great revolutionary leader, was educated mainly in American schools in Hawaii and in an English medical college in Hong Kong. In 1911, he decreed that English be taught to Chinese students. His successor, Chiang Kai-shek, was educated in Moscow, but Mao Tse-tung shunned most contact with the non-Chinese world. Indeed, even today, foreign experts are invited to make their short contributions and leave.


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