English Learning in China and Foreign Language Acquisition

English Learning in China and Foreign Language Acquisition

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1. Introduction

Nowadays English an international language plays a more and more important role in the world. China wants to communicate well with the outside world and CEnglish has become the most useful instrument. The Ministry of Education has made the policy on English teaching in the primary school. Their reason is that English should be taught as early as possible. It's true that we need more people who can speak good English and communicate with other countries so as to bring economic profit to our country and introduce China to the world Cand to improve the country's image in the world, but is it the truth that teaching English in primary school is well preparedCor is everything ok for English learning?

In the present day society, competition is becoming fiercely. Some parents are sending their children to the English training school to learn English. The parents want their children to be priority to others in the future. But is it necessary to learn English as early as possible? Many people agree with this. As for my part, I do not agree with this thought. Some children are too young to learn a foreign language in their own age. It is not necessary to have a child to learn English at a very young age. First, with the deepening of reform and China's entry into WTO, English teaching has drawn the attention of the whole educational world. To cater for the economic development, the Ministry of Education required that English should be taught from the third year onward in all primary schools in urban areas from the fall of 2001 and the following year in rural areas. (5) Meanwhile, a New English Course Requirement at Compulsory Education Stage (on trial basis) was published. Second, in the last two years in primary school, the children have the ability to master and make full use of his mother tongue. So it is easy to have a good command of English learning in both listening and speaking.

The overall aim of the New English Course Requirement at the basic education stage is to develop the children's general language ability. The development of the general language ability is based on the overall development of the children's language skills, language knowledge, emotion and attitude, learning strategies and culture awareness. Among them, language knowledge and language skills are the foundation; culture awareness is of help in using language appropriately; emotion and attitude are the important factors influencing children's learning and development; and learning strategies can help to enhance learning efficiency and develop learners' autonomy.

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2. English learning and foreign language acquisition in primary period

Schmid Schonbein, the English department of Germany Aachen Formal University, has done some experiments about whether children can master the basics of English by formal teaching methods or not. Actually the answer is certain. According to the experiments, Schmid Schonbein has proved that the children can naturally pick up English in a condition of creating a teaching environment. Of course, in this environment it needs teachers teach the children with a Standard English accent and play with them in a very ease atmosphere.

As mentioned English learning, it has to relate to some concepts about it. Foreign language acquisition (3) is a process of learning and obtaining a second language unconsciously in a natural or directed circumstance. Foreign linguists regard foreign language learning as foreign language acquisition because learning is a conscious activity; both the conscious activities and unconscious activities are included in the foreign language acquisition. For example, during the process of learning English, learners consciously imitate the correct pronunciation, recite English words, and study the grammar rules. These are all called conscious activities. Also learners will use the words and sentences, which are heard in conversations. This shows that the words and sentences are learned unconsciously, not on purpose. This kind of activity is widely used in the field of childrenfs English learning.

As the Ministry of Education (5) required that English should be taught from the third year onward in all primary schools, it can set out a series of teaching plan for children according to the characteristics of childrenfs foreign language acquisition. We go through it by means of providing a large amount of language material, making use of the language acquisition system. In the English teaching the direct teaching methods are adopted by teachers and all kinds of teaching equipments and pictures are used to help children learn English.

  1. English learning and psychology of foreign language teaching in primary period
  2. 1 Psychology use in English learning in primary school

Psychology is a subject of science, which relates to the occurrence of peoplefs psychological phenomenon and the development regularity. Psychology is applied to the social practice, mainly in the field of education, especially in teaching practice. In primary schools the English teachers have necessity to understand the psychology in order to know the psychological features of pupils. Psychology can be used to direct the teaching activities in lessons. Moreover, with the regularity of interest and the motivation for learning, English teachers cultivate and motivate the learnersf interest of English learning in primary period. So in this way, it directs the learnersf interest attitude and improves their learning ability.

Interest is a key point in foreign language learning. Stimulating and maintaining the students' English learning interest is one of the important tasks in primary school English teaching. From a psychological point of view, interest is characterized by two basic features: curiosity (i.e. the urge to acquire knowledge) and a positive emotional attitude to the language involved.

Interest has great advantage to stimulate language learning. If learner gets no interest in study, language learning will be a heavy burden on him. As a result, learner becomes boring with learning. But on the contrary, the learner will get enjoy from learning. Subdivided into two phases of direct interest and indirect interest, interest is a crucial means to arouse integrative motivation. Direct interest results from direct learning process itself and the contents being learned. It attracts students' attention, but it lasts for a short time, as it is hard to be involved in studentsf thinking} after it is perceived. For example, young beginners (i.e., primary school students) are particularly curious about the English course when it is first exposed to them. Novelty stimulates their interest directly. However, when they come across difficulties, or they are slow in progress, this interest will disappear. Consequently it is necessary and important to cultivate students' indirect interest, which results from participants themselves and their learning purposes and tasks. It characterizes self-consciousness and stability in existence.

In English learning, students differ in individual psychological features. One is the difference in intelligence and language gift. Some person, whose intelligence is just at ordinary level, can learn English very well. But others, who are beyond the average, are not good at learning English. So English learning requires language gift. The other one is difference in characteristics. In general speaking, the learners, who have extrovert character, have an advantageous position in English learning. They are not afraid of making mistakes while practicing English. As we know, the more practice we do, the more progress we will make. Finally, it should be noted that English teachers carry out different strategies with reference to different individuals. Some students like making discussion with others, while others like thinking alone. It is essential for English teachers to recognize the different characteristics of all the students and make use of this to develop the English learning interest.

  1. 2 Psychological feature of children
  2. 2.1 Cognitive development of children

According to Ulric Neisser (2.), cognition refers to "all processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered and used." The cognitive process is a very complex inner process. Firstly, "cognitive process begins with sensory input; then, it is followed by the transformation of the sensory input; finally, physical or external stimulation is encoded into neural events." The cognitive development refers to the process of a person's cognitive ability that progress with the increase of age and the accumulation of experiences. A child's cognitive development is widely shaped by IQ (intelligence quotient), life experience, living circumstances, education background, etc. A multidimensional criterion of judging the growth of a child's cognitive development is generally acknowledged, which includes variables such as IQ, perception, thinking, attention, memory, organization of knowledge, language development, reasoning and the ability of problem-solving, etc.

Children's thinking is in a transitional period, with the following features: firstly, their thinking is undergoing the transition from concrete thinking in terms of images to logical thinking in abstract terms; secondly, the overall structures of their thinking tends to reach perfection. Although their reasoning ability demonstrates great differences at different ages, it does not contradict the fact that most children's reasoning is rather direct.

Children's observing ability has reached a fairly high level, based on their perception of colors, sounds, spaces and positions, time, movements, etc. However, they easily make mistakes when what are to be observed are unfamiliar objects or things. If asked to describe places or positions, 8-year-olds are usually puzzled for lacking a sense of space or being unable to distinguish between two-dimension space and

three-dimension space. Students of Grade 3 are quite distinct from students of Grade 1 and 2. The former significantly exceed the latter in accuracy, order and the ability to judge although making mistakes to some degree is still inevitable. In addition, teacher's direction may facilitate or mislead children's observation. Thus it is reasonable to conclude that teachers should give clear directions, for example, `what's in the picture' rather than `say something about the picture'.

Children's memory is rather mechanical and their short-term memory is closely related to their age and the content to memorize. Some psychologists indicate that students of Grade 3 are being marked with conscious memory, and the unconscious one, can be strengthened by cultivating students' affects and interest.

To sum up, since primary school children are still at a rather low stage in cognitive development, their limits in all aspects should be kept in mind. Rules explanations and talks in slightly abstract language must be approached with extreme caution for they might bore children from the very beginning. Considering the flaw of the observing ability of primary school children, various visual aids can be adopted in a primary English classroom since their observation is usually direct and simple. Furthermore, teachers should use appropriate language to ensure the accuracy of students' observation. Since they are good at short-term memory that is at the same time rather mechanical, teachers should not forget that difficult concepts or patterns require more repetition.

3.2.2 Features of children's attention

"Attention is generally defined as the concentration and focusing of mental efforth. Best.B.John. (2). It also gives some vivid examples to show the characteristics of attention that are as follows: first, selectivity of attention. For example, a person can focus his mental effort on specific stimuli while excluding other stimuli from consideration. Second, attention can be diverted. If a professor advises a student to pay attention to a certain question and the student does so, his attention indicates that he has the ability to shift the focus of mental effort from one stimulus to anther. In this case, he is able to change the focus of his efforts from one question to another, and this ability seems to be under his control. Besides the above-mentioned features, children's attention also shows great differences from that of the adults'. Firstly, their attention is not focused on enough. They tend to focus on the concrete objectives, rather than abstract concepts. Selectivity is very obvious since they usually focus on the external form rather than on the internal relationship. Secondly, their attention is easily shifted. Students from 7 to 10 years old have an attention span of about 20 minutes, students from 10 to 12 about 25 minutes and students over 12 about 30 minutes. Surprisingly, given interesting material and taught with appropriate method, their attention span may last for 40 minutes, although it is well known that their attention span is shorter than adults'. Thirdly, they are not expert in dividing their attention. Adults can skillfully divide their mental effort. When doing several things at one time, an adult can focus on one thing and accomplish the other things since he is automatized in skills and procedures. On the contrary, to primary school pupils, if several objects or language points are presented at one time to them, they will be disturbed and confused. With all the limits of children's attention in mind, some teachers might be quite pessimistic about how to extend children's attention span. However, children can fasten their eyes on the favorite cartoon programs for the duration. The short attention span comes up usually when teachers present material that to them is boring; or too difficult. So on a specific ground, H. Douglas Brown (2) suggests the following ways to raise children's attention:

Activities should be designed to capture children's immediate interest.

  1. .A lesson needs to have a variety of activities to keep interest and attention alive.
  2. A teacher needs to be animated, lively and enthusiastic about the subject matter. Since a classroom is a stage in which the teacher is the lead actor, his energy will be infectious to others. A teacher might think he is overdoing it; actually pupils need exaggeration to keep spirits high and minds alert.
  3. A sense of humor will go a long way to keep children laughing and learning.

Since children's humor is quite different from adults', a teacher should remember to put himself in their shoes

  1. Students have a lot of natural curiosity, which is a certain spontaneous interest. Teachers should tap into that curiosity whenever possible and thereby help to maintain children's attention and focus. It is well known that current second language teaching methods aim at developing students' communicative competence that will enable them to communicate effectively in a second language. Extensive researches have been conducted in order to develop a new approach to course design, which takes task as the unit of analysis.
  2. English teaching in English learning in primary school

During English learning in primary schools, students are always influenced by their teachers. Especially in English learning, students imitate teacherfs way of pronouncing words and sentences. Therefore, whether a student learns English well or not, it is determined by English teachersf teaching way.

Through the above statement of psychology, we know that interest plays an indispensable role in English learning. Primary education, which is the beginning of the fundamental education, is also the key period of developing intellectuals for the future. Interest teaching can be regarded as an important mean to stimulate learners to develop a good habit of learning. There are some ways to maintain the interest in English learning.

4.1 oral English teaching

Still now, in primary school, English teachers focus their attention on the oral English teaching gradually. However, gthe dumb English h has become a main problem in English learning. Modern linguists regard the spoken language as the primary or natural medium of human language. From this point of view, it can deduce that, in English learning, oral English cannot be omitted. It is difficult to imagine how a person to communicate with others if he knows how to read and write English only. In everyday communication, speech plays a greater role than writing in terms of the amount of information conveyed. As we know that, students have strong ability of imitation. Teachers should require students to read loudly following the tape-recorder. This can correct them with right pronunciation and tone. In teaching process, teachers teach them the international phonetic symbol. Because they are beginners, they should have strict requirements to themselves. During the daily teaching and learning, students practice it repeatedly. Consequently, students are capable of pronouncing English words and sentences in a standard way.

4.2 Using English to organize teaching in class

Language is a tool of thinking. In order to have the learnersf thinking connected with English, English teachers speak English as much as possible in class. From this way, the pupils understand teachersf intention through action and expression. In everyday practice pupils can reach a level, which is they can remember and learn English gradually. For example, when teaching the phrase glisten to the tape-recorderh, teacher can point at ears and tape-recorder to students. After practicing repeatedly, students understand it quite well. gLook at my mouthh, teachers point at their mouth with proper appearance. Through accumulation day by day learners will learn more English expressions in class. It would make it possible for learners to cultivate the habit of English comprehension and direct applied English. To organize teaching in English, it is easy to attract learnersf attention to focus on English learning. It brings a fresh feeling to learners and great interest of English.

4.3 Making use of the situation teaching method

In class teaching, teachers should create learning environment and adopt a mean of pictures and tape-recorder. Students practice listening and speaking in a certain language environment and describe a vivid scene in front of students. Students take part in the learning activities by using this way and obtain language communication ability from it.

4.3.1 Creating real living circumstance

It is a good idea to let the real life into the class to shorten the distance between class teaching and daily life and also to provide an opportunity language communication. For instance, two students made the following conversation.

A: (Knocking at the door) May I come in?

B: (Opening the door) oh, itfs you, A. come in, please.

After coming into the house.

A: sit down, please. Would you like coffee or tea?

B: coffee, please.

A: Here you are.

B: Thank you.

This kind of conversation, not only the content, but also the style, is all related to our daily life. Therefore, students will be active in requiring such conversation practice in class. It develops studentsf ability of conversation in a certain occasion and forms a good habit of using polite expressions unconsciously.

4.3.2 Learning words

In class, English teachers teach students new words with the body language. When teaching some new words about animals, teacher can ask students to see animals in the zoo and draw some pictures of animals. Then, teacher tells students to read and imitates the pronunciation of words with tape again and again. The edrawingf has brought a real atmosphere around students. This stimulates English learning more impressive.

4.3.3 Action

The class teaching is considered the activity finished by teachers and students together. Some action verbs and phrases are adopted by concrete actions to make students achieve a better understanding about it. Such as the word gdanceh. Before teaching it, the teacher asks students to listen to a pleasant music and lets one dance on the platform, students will quickly know what she is doing. After this when teacher teaches the word, students will connect the pronunciation with the action together. Then, teacher says, letfs dance together, to all the students. At that moment, the atmosphere will reach a summit. It has been proved that using situation-teaching method stimulates the learning interest, if students take part in language learning, the better result will obtain at last.

4.3.4 Making use of a rich variety of after-class activities

The practice of English teaching also shows that after-class activities can not only supplement the limited in-class teaching, but also lower students' anxiety and motivate them. Thus, the teacher can deliberately design appropriate after-class activities for students. For example, the teacher can encourage children to take part in various contests like story telling, drama, or English calligraphy and etc. In short, all these after-class activities are useful supplement to classroom teaching. They can bring a lot of fun that cannot be obtained from textbooks and can thus motivate them intrinsically.

4.4 Activity-based approach

In recent years emphasis on young learner's language teaching has shifted from a focus on grammatical structure and pronunciation drills to more free practices that reflect the development in the field of activity-based teaching. As Arnold (1) notes a good teacher makes children glad it is Monday, and through some activities, it is possible to create a classroom where children feel "this is a happy place to grow, to learn, to be."

In traditional teaching learning and practice activities are separated and students participated passively in-activities. However the activity in the activity-based approach means children's active participation in a meaningful context and it promotes interactions between children. In an activity-based curriculum the main focus is on the activities themselves and not on the language as such or any single aspect of it. Many studies on the language learning for young learners emphasize the vital role of activities in language classroom. While fun forms of learning are motivating, relaxing and rewarding factors in primary classrooms, they have to be carefully structured so as to ensure that learning objectives are met. The teacher utilizing the activity-based approach confronts a number of issues of activity principles and organization.

There are some reasons of the importance of the activity-based approach. First, most related studies are conducted in the western world. Western and Chinese teachers and students had different negotiating roles in classroom. By contrast, the communicative teaching method is not emphasized at school-level in China and therefore some of the variables need to be reinterpreted and the structural relationships between constructs need to be considered from a Chinese viewpoint. This may contribute to a wider and deeper understanding of the activity-based teaching approach in Chinese context. It also investigated whether the activity-based approach had any effect on the students' self-monitoring ability, which bridges the lack of study in this aspect. However, the conditions for the introduction of activity-based teaching and learning are still to be improved. For example, though some teachers have been familiar with the activity-based approach for many years, they are still at a loss as to how to make use of them systematically and develop a distinct curriculum for this purpose.

Children are most moldable in primary school. During this time they are active and good at imitating, but cannot concentrate their attention for long. 'The activity-based approach, which is based on young learners' psychological and physiological features, fosters not only the learners' linguistic competence, but also their affect, such as interest, motivation and self-confidence. It is important that the primary language teachers have an in-depth understanding of the activity-based teaching approach.

5. The necessity of western culture teaching in the English learning in primary school

Since 2001, China's primary school English education has made some progress while at the same time exposed a lot of problems, including the negligence of Western culture teaching. A lot of primary school English teachers only concentrate on the training of the students' listening, speaking, reading and writing skills while neglect the improvement of the students' intercultural communicative competence. Little attention has been put on the development of the students' knowledge about the Western culture. As a result, most primary school students know very little about the differences between Western culture and Chinese culture, not to say to use English appropriately and creatively in intercultural communication. In order to solve these problems, Western culture teaching has become imperative in our primary school English education. Culture is the base of language, without culture, language would lose its content and significance. Language learning and culture teaching are closely linked and they can complement each other.

5.1 The significance of Western culture teaching in the English class of China today

It is well known that language and culture are inseparable. Language is the main carrier of culture and culture is embodied in language. Every language is a component of culture and is a tool to create culture. Language serves and reflects cultural needs. Therefore language learning entails culture learning. Language teaching and culture teaching are closely linked and can complement each other. We can't teach a language well if we haven't mastered the cultural background of it. Language is a part of culture. Therefore one can never learn a language well if he doesn't know its cultural code and criterions. On the contrary, the deeper one understands the history, culture, tradition, customs, living style and even some daily life details of the foreign country, the better can one use the language of that country. Understanding language alone is not sufficient for good intercultural communication. Cultural aspects of language and the cultural backgrounds of speakers of that language have to be understood as well.

Nowadays in the international environment of globalization (which means the integration of global economy), the goal of education is to improve the students' ability of survival in the global competition and promote rapid economic development of our country. The rapid development of modern science and technology has narrowed the gap between one nation and another. Nations are becoming more interdependent. Along with the swift coming of the age of globalization, the conflict, dialogue and communication among different cultural traditions, different cultural characteristics and different cultural styles have become a part of our everyday life. Therefore, people all over the world, children in particular, need to be prepared to be global citizens who can understand and hence can have a better communication with others. English has become an international language, which is being learned and used by millions of people all over the world. It has become necessary for our English learners to develop cross-cultural understanding. Concurrent with a sweeping process of modernization and socio-economic reform since the 1980s, Chinafs English-language needs have been accelerating at a dramatic speed, and nowadays in China; English learning is closely associated with the process of learning Western culture and sorting out our own cultural heritage. When we use English in intercultural communication, because of our ignorance of the Western culture, communication failure often occurs. In order to overcome such intercultural communication barrier, penetrate deeply in this intergrading cultural view, analyze different cultures and foster successful intercultural communication, Western culture teaching has become especially important in China today.

5.2 The current situation and problems of China's Western culture teaching, especially in the English class of primary schools

The role of cultural learning in the foreign language classroom has been the concern of many teachers and scholars and has caused considerable controversy. Teaching culture has been considered important in foreign language instruction for almost a century in Western countries. However, it was not until more recent years that teaching culture in language courses has been widely emphasized. Although it has become widely recognized that we should teach Western culture along with the English language itself, the practice of Western culture teaching is still at the beginning and experimental level in China's foreign language education today. In our foreign language education system, culture teaching hasn't got enough attention for years. There is no comparatively systematic culture teaching program or concrete "culture course ", which can guide our English teachers' practice of culture teaching. Besides, there are no English textbooks with the particular aim of teaching Western culture hand in hand with the teaching of the English language. Some English teachers just think it is too hard to put some culture-teaching theories into practice; while some others even regard the socio-cultural knowledge as unessential to English teaching and only add some limited background information about the English-speaking countries here and there in the English class, which is certainly unsystematic and illogical. As a result, the students feel puzzled and are lack of the basic systematic knowledge of Western culture.

To another extreme, some primary school English teachers do pay attention to the teaching of Western culture, but they have overemphasized the simple adoption of Western culture. Because primary school students are still immature in their thinking modes and ideology system, and their Chinese cultural identity has not been fully established, when the teacher overemphasizes the importance of Western culture and let them simply imitate Western culture, they may get a false impression that Western culture is better than Chinese culture and even lose their patriotism. In this way, the inappropriate teaching of Western culture may have some negative influence on the development of the students' ideology system.

In order to solve these problems, Western culture teaching has become imperative in our primary school English education and the problem of how to exert it appropriately is waiting to be solved urgently.

5.3 The bilateral relationship between language and culture

It is well known that language and culture are inseparable. Language is the main carrier of culture and culture is embodied in language. Language can reinforce and preserve a culture, its beliefs and customs, and sometimes, conditions in its future course of development. The general idea that language is a component of culture is not under debate. Just as the anthropologist Kluckhohn (6) once said, without language, human culture would become unthinkable; on the other hand, culture is the base of language, without culture, language would lose its content and significance. Language teaching and culture teaching are closely linked and can complement each other.

Language does not exist apart from culture, that is, from the socially inherited assembly of practices and beliefs that determines the quality of our lives. Language penetrates into all cultural levels; it reflects and organizes other cultural elements and gives them meaning. The relationship between language and culture is not independent but bilateral. They greatly influence and restrict each other. Language is a social institution, both shaping and shaped by society at large, or in particular the "cultural environment" in which it plays an important role. In this way, culture becomes the core of language teaching. Language and culture are so closely related that their boundaries, if any, are extremely blurred and it is difficult to become aware of letting alone question the assumptions and expectations that we hold. It is nowadays a commonplace in language pedagogy to stress the importance of culture teaching and to say that language and culture are intertwined, that it is not possible to teach a language without culture, and culture is the necessary context for language use. It should be reiterated that, sense, English as a foreign language teaching is culture teaching, and by teaching a language one is inevitably already teaching culture implicitly and gaining insights into the foreign language should automatically presuppose engagement in the foreign culture, in so far as these two, language and culture, go hand in hand.

  1. 4 The importance and significance of Western culture teaching, from an educational point of view
  2. 4.1 Quality-oriented education

In the past two or three decades, with the prosecution of China's educational reform, our foreign language education has undergone the process from an exam-oriented one to a quality-oriented one. "Quality-oriented education" is an imaginary concept, whose starting point is to develop students' intelligence and enhance the whole nation's cultural and educational levels. It emphasizes the overall development of individual students as well as of all the students as a whole; at the same time, quality-oriented education pays great attention to the students' individual differences and advocates teaching students in accordance with their talent. On the basis of developing the students' cultural, moral and psychological making, quality-oriented education applies itself to helping the students learn how to study and how to develop actively. It is rather safe to say that cultural knowledge is an educational objective in its own right.

The English subject has an educational role to play. The educational aim has two implications: one is for education; the other is for skill learning. The former one mainly refers to students' moral education, bringing up learners with a dialectical outlook to them world and life. The latter suggests developing students' intelligence, enhancing their knowledge and cultural level and their health, perfecting their behavior, such as fostering their aesthetic judgment, their working ability on their own, enlarging their range of knowledge, promoting their differentiating ability and laying a foundation for further learning and practice.

The advanced science and technology of a country relies on a great number of high-level scientific and technological personnel, who are needed to be proficient in a foreign language and its corresponding culture. Moreover, it is in the early primary school years that the foundation is laid. Our primary school English education pays great attention that our students learn more about foreign countries, especially the culture of some English-speaking countries. The students' affective factors such as learning interest, attitude and self-confidence have been given principal consideration, so does their intelligent development, the cultivation of their patriotism, consciousness of the world and creative spirit. Learn to communicate, study cooperatively, form a healthy personality and strengthen bilateral cultural communication have also become important ingredients of English learning objectives. Only through adequate English cultural teaching, can we achieve these requirements of quality-oriented education.

5.4.2 The students' personal growth

In the current primary school English curriculum of China, the pedagogical objective has been changed from the simple study of some linguistic knowledge and linguistic skills to the students' overall individual development. It is rather clear that foreign language learning also entails culture learning, cognitive growth and personality development. Foreign language can also be viewed in a general framework of cognitive development, since the acquisition of a new language is often related to the learning of new concepts, propositions, modification of attitudes, acquisition of interests, social values or social roles, changes in personality, or even adaptation to previously unfamiliar modes of thinking.

In the process of English learning, through the teacher's appropriate Western culture teaching, can the students find their own cultural identity and develop their personality in a favorable way. In this way, the learning of foreign language would contribute to their expanded cognition of the world, and in a more general sense, contribute to their personal growth.

6. Conclusion

China is developing. English is increasingly becoming a tool for international communication in transportation, tourism, commerce, banking, technology, diplomacy and scientific research. In English learning in primary school, teachers have to find practical ways to motivate the students to learn and appreciate the language, and at the same time, sustain students' interest in the language learning process. Hence, we should implement continuous, interrelated, and meaningful activities, which are process-oriented.

I talked about English learning in primary school from some aspects. Childrenfs interest plays an important role In English learning process according to the psychological features of children. Also it is necessary to use situation teaching method and activity-based approach to cultivate childrenfs interest in English learning in primary school. Besides these, western culture teaching is a dispensable part in English learning. Both English teachers and learners should realize that culture and foreign language learning are closely inter-related. Culture has strong influences on the language. Language reflects culture and traces of culture are apparently found in the language. In learning English, teachers should try to make learners understand it in its cultural context. English learners can never be expected to learn the language well without learning and understanding the culture of the people who speak the language. The teaching of culture should become an integral part of English learning. In order to foster cross-cultural understanding, our primary school English teachers should present students with a true picture or representation of the Western culture.

There are also some improvements for the English learning in primary school. Teachers tend to ignore the importance of such factors as positive self-concept, high self-esteem, positive attitude, clear understanding of the goals for English learning, continuous active participation in the English learning process, and relevance of a conducive environment that could contribute to the success of English learning. It is important for them to realize that they should develop themselves in all aspects. It is more important for them to know what the most appropriate approach to teaching English in particular environment is and what activities are suitable for students. Thus, teachers should be equipped with new concepts. They are required not only to foster students' linguistic competence, but also to help students develop intellectually and physically. That means teachers should have a good command of language as well as psychology, pedagogy and other subjects. Teachers are also required to play different roles in different phases of a task. The teacher is an observer, a helper and supporter during the English learning, in primary school, instead of a language "policeman" or "policewoman" in traditional approaches. In a word, English learning has a long period of development.
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