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With the continuous deepening of reform and opening up, the socialist market economic system is gradually improving. Although the new economic system poses challenges to the traditional sponsoring concept of universities, it also brings precious opportunities for the development of universities. In order to face the challenges and to seize the opportunities to stay stably in the forefront and keep forging ahead, the School of Foreign Languages has undergone positive changes in educational ideology over the past 10 years. Combining Guangdong geographical advantages and characteristics of its own specialties, the School of Foreign Languages constantly deepens its teaching reform and explores a new model for the cultivation of foreign language talents, which has obtained certain achievement.
1. Transform the educational ideology; update the educational concept
Transforming and updating educational concept is the prerequisite of deepening teaching reform and improving teaching quality. In this process, we focus on transforming the teaching concept of simply imparting knowledge into the concept of combing imparting knowledge with developing the students’ ability, which pays attention to the concept of personality development, the combination of personnel training and social needs and the cross-disciplinary knowledge imparting so as to cultivate inter-disciplinary foreign language talents. Besides, we transform the traditional ideology of single classroom education. And combining the strong practicality characteristic of foreign language teaching, we bring up the educational ideology of combing classroom teaching with the influence of atmosphere. In the discussion of university education ideology, we gradually reach a consensus on the issues of updating the educational concept and setting up a new teaching quality, which have further set a clear orientation for teaching reform and the improvement of teaching quality.
2. Deepen the teaching reform; approach the teaching mode
Reform as its advantage, the college English teaching has the following features:
1) Fully mobilize the enthusiasm of teachers to carry out teaching and research work of college English. While combining with education to engage in scientific research, we pay close attention to scientific research and teaching promoting. Changing our thinking, renewing our ideas, and firmly establishing the sense of quality, we ask classroom teaching for quality, ask extra-curricular activities for quality and ask the advanced teaching methods and means for quality, so that the quality of college English teaching will be raised to a new level.
2)The school at all levels pay great attention to the college English teaching reform, which has large investment, numerous reform projects and a fast pace of implementation. Based on reform practice over the past years, according to the development of market economy and the actual situation of our school, at the end of 1996, we put forward a set of programs and measures for college English educational reform, which were systematically put into practice with the energetic support from the school (earmarked funds of 320,000 RMB). Persisting in four-year continuous college English teaching, we aim to establish our English language proficiency test certificate system, compile trans-century college English reading materials and build school language learning environment and so on so that we can stay ahead among the universities of Guangdong Province. And some reform is groundbreaking.
3) The reform experiments of teaching content and teaching methods is in-depth, lasting and fruitful. For instance, comparative experimental study on multimedia teaching in college English classrooms, study on college English oral teaching, study on college English writing teaching, study on test method reform of college English, experimental study on the use of advanced teaching methods to shorten the teaching hours, experimental study on enhancing English extra-curricular activities and developing students’ communication skills are all carried out in an orderly manner and have achieved initial results.
4) Having reached the domestic advanced level, the research and development of college English multimedia courseware receives great attention and praise from experts in the same field both at home and abroad. The courseware we developed won the excellent prize of State Education Commission 1997 college English multimedia courseware presentation. Commissioned by the State Education Commission, we cooperated with Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press for the publication and distribution of the CD version of multimedia instructional guidance of series of teaching materials ofCollege English, which enjoys prestigious fame throughout the country. Besides, in Nov 1997, commissioned by the State Education Commission and British Council, we successfully held the seminar on the development and application of multimedia courseware of 97 Sino-British English teaching.
SCUT lies in Guangdong, which benefits a lot from China’s reform and opening up, and, due to its discipline setting, it keeps facing economic impact and challenges, as well as numerous opportunities of development. The characteristic, as follows, of undergraduate curriculum is closely related to the challenges and opportunities concerning the market economy.
1) Personnel training serves the socialist market economy. As one of the characteristics of SFL, we foster undergraduates ready for the construction of Guangdong socialist market economy. Since the development of export-oriented economy and modernization in Guangdong calls for a quantity of technological talents with high proficiency of English, reform of our teaching mode is brought forward, both in English major and college English, such as technological basis, dual degree and English minor. And it has always proved to be a successful reform from the feedback of the graduates who stepped into society.
2) As a perfect blend of arts and sciences, SFL, with the advantages of disciplines in SCUT, cultivates competent students with a specialty of foreign languages and basic scientific knowledge as well. And it set technological English major when recruiting students, making best use of the advantages of disciplines in SCUT. Therefore, the syllabus is elaborately designed, containing courses which are compulsory for students of sciences major, such as advanced mathematics, mechanics, electrical engineering, computer science and so on. It is manifested that graduates from SFL, with the compound knowledge of both arts and sciences are adaptable, competitive and meet the needs of society.
3) Highlighting the education for all-round development is the third feature of the undergraduate teaching of our school. Apart from paying great attention to the undergraduate basic teaching (the hour for basic skill training is sufficient) and ensuring that students have solid professional knowledge, we also attach great importance to fostering students’ abilities to obtain and apply knowledge, analyze and solve problems, act according to circumstance etc. for purpose of adapting to the requirements of open and competitive market economy of talent quality.
4) Enhance the atmosphere construction to create a favorable external environment for the cultivation of foreign language talents. Classroom teaching and extra-curricular activities are two important aspects for cultivating university students to become talents. For foreign language teaching, the extra-curricular activities are a necessary extension of classroom teaching. In the organization of extra-curricular activities, it is very important to create an atmosphere for foreign language learning. The activity of English Castle, the publication of newspaper entitled “Learning”, the opening up of various academic lectures on foreign languages and other humanities, together with foreign language speeches and competitions, have all played a significant role in the creation of atmosphere. They have largely enriched the way of language learning and contributed to improving the quality of undergraduate foreign language teaching, which is a very successful aspect of foreign language teaching reform.
The academic research of SFL consists of two aspects, teaching research and discipline studies. The former, with the characteristics of various teaching and research sections, proceeds smoothly regarding methods of classroom instruction, teaching reforms, explorations of modes and material constructions. While the latter focuses on theoretical linguistics (syntax included), applied linguistics (containing language acquisition, language testing, foreign language for specific purposes, theory of college English teaching, and translation, to name a few), English linguistics (stylistics, text analysis, etc.), and computer assisted language teaching (including development and application of software in multimedia English teaching, teaching and learning English based on Internet, and so on).
As an academic research institution that SFL has established, Language and Culture Research Institute is responsible for the organization of academic activities and scientific research projects. The establishment of the Institute and its functions play a decisive role in discipline development of SFL.
With the development of undergraduate teaching and the establishment of graduate degree program, over the last decade, the school size has expanded rapidly and the teaching quality has improved gradually. Besides, the academic atmosphere has become denser day by day and the scientific research achievements, of which the quality is of high-level, have emerged one after another. By the end of 1998, SFL had held an international academic meeting and three domestic academic meetings. And there had been more than ten persons (times) going abroad for international academic exchanges. By the end of the same year, the faculty of SFL had published 127 teaching and research dissertations, six treatises(ed.), three dictionaries (including two large dictionaries), four sets of undergraduate teaching books, and 15 various books of supporting undergraduate teaching. SFL is now committed to one project in research of National Social Science Foundation, 6 research projects of provincial level and over 40 projects of school level, the total project funding reaches 600,000 RMB. The wide promotion of scientific research is beneficial for the improvement of the faculty’s quality, which drives the undergraduate (and postgraduate) teaching and thus fundamentally creates conditions for the improvement of undergraduate teaching quality.