Eighty eight percent of students feel intense pressure to
The China Post
According to a recent poll, a vast majority of students feel immense pressure to
The survey, organized by the People First Party caucus in the Taipei City
Council, polled 1,180 fifth and sixth graders about their reasons for learning
English. Eighty-eighty percent responded that they felt intense pressure to
learn the language while 84 percent studied English at cram schools outside of
their regular schoolwork.
Among those taking on additional English study at cram schools, 48 percent said
that their parents forced their attendance. Only 27 percent said that it was of
their own volition while another 24 percent were worried about falling behind
"Out of twenty students that I have now, only one came voluntarily," said
Lillian Chen who has taught English at a cram school for three years. "And he
came because he was tired of getting poor grades. All the others were sent by
According to Peng Guo-neng, chair of the elementary school parent's association,
parents aren't willing to let their children fall behind in the race. Many of
them, he told the China Times Express, are even willing to let cram school
teachers hit their children if it elicits good results. They want their children
to go to strict teachers to learn. Chen agrees with Peng that parents are behind
much of the pressure.
"A lot of parents complain to me and say I'm too nice, they ask me to be more
strict. One grandmom even brought me a stick to hit her grandson."
"It's sad, but some of them need encouragement, some of them need pressure and
some of them need to be beaten."
Chen clarified "beating" as "Not much, just like one strike on the hand."
"It's actually more for the threat of it," she explained
However, Chen says, that these parents do not truly reflect an overwhelming
majority in her experience.
"There not all the same, some are more casual. They more like pass the
responsibility to me. Once they send their kids to the cram school, they don't
necessarily worry about teaching them English or watching their schoolwork. It's
all my responsibility."
And there are still parents who want to let their children be... children.
"One mother said 'Oh, he's still young and he wants to have more time to play.'
She was pretty cool about it."
According to the study, as the cram school craze is increasing, students are
studying four or five years of English by the time they are in the fifth and
sixth grades. While 96 percent can at least write their ABC's, the study
revealed that there were still four percent who seemed to have no hope of even
getting that far.
Hsinsheng Elementary school teacher Li Yi-min says that 90 percent of her
students attend crams schools and some even study with tutors. She told the
China Times Express that one student said she studied because "Mama says the
cram school teacher will hit me." Comments such as this from students, Li says,
bother many of the public school teachers to the point they "don't know whether
to laugh or cry."
Even cram school teachers like Chen see the escalating push for the younger
generation to learn English as being overdone.
"I do think it's too much for kids."
As for the 12-year-old whose grandmother asked Chen tohit?
"He couldn't even write A to Z when he first came," Chen said. "Now he's
The survey was sent to 1,316 fifth and sixth graders at 48 grade schools in 12
districts. Of the 1,180 responds, 52 percent were boys while 48 percent were
girls. Fifth-graders comprised 45 percent with sixth-graders made up 65 percent