english is an international language," long jianping told her pupils at the bell la'ershan primary school located in
the impoverished la'ershan prefecture in western hunan province. the school
was funded by the shanghai bell company in 1993 costing 380,000 yuan and is
"project hope", an operation which helps fund education in china's rural areas.
miao ethnic chinese students in the 5th and the 6th grades at the school will have
the same opportunity of learning english as their counterparts in big cities
where english teaching is so popular that it is even taught in kindergartens.
wu huanzhou, the headmaster of the school, said that english was offered to
help more of its graduates get a higher education outside of la'ershan, a
mountainous area some 1,000 km away from the provincial capital of changsha.
conducted in the local dialect, standard chinese and english. the
miao is china's fourth largest ethnic group with a population of more than 7
million. they have retained their own language and traditional customs. long
jianping, who is also
miao, has become the first english teacher in
miao primary schools. due to financial constraints at the school, long prepares her
own teaching materials.
"one has to be practical in teaching english to these students. they need to
grasp some basic skills such as the 26 letters of the alphabet as well as a few
standard greetings which will make further learning much easier for them." long said that when she graduated from the primary school in the 1980s, the
school was only a shabby earth structure. now there stands a two-storey white
building in the mountain which can accommodate several hundreds of students.