Problem paper

Am, Is, and Are

Dear Guangming He,

I used to be a student in Shanxi Experimental High School. As a manager of English department, you must be familiar with the content of English textbooks. Maybe you believe those are organized and knowledgeable. However, when I lived in America for a year, I found out that the most of knowledge taught in high school were impractical. Additionally, the content of English textbooks is irrelevant to the English level of high school students.

“Am,” “is”, and “are.”

These three words were my first English class’s content in the high school. When I saw teacher wrote these words on the blackboard, I was shocked. At that moment, I began to suspect that I just experienced a time travel. “Did I go back to the elementary school?” I looked around and tried to find the answer. However, other students indeed looked like 16 years old, which proved I was a high school student. Then my teacher said: “I am…he is…you are…” After hearing those examples, I still could not believe what my r was teaching. “Do we look like people who never learned English before?” I thought.

To be honest, Shanxi Experimental high school is the best high school in my hometown. If students want to get into this school, they have to get an excellent grade on the standard exam, which includes Chinese, math, English, chemistry, physics, history, and so on. Obviously, teachers already taught students those vocabularies and grammars in the middle school. Otherwise, they would not be sitting in this classroom, listening to classes. Because I attended a good elementary school, I learned English earlier than some students. As a result, when I choose “am, is, or are”, I will not hesitate about which I am going to use.  It is no longer a problem for a twelve years old child. However, the first class totally shocked me. I began to wonder if my high school is the best.

After the first class, I called my friends and told them this unbelievable thing. However, they said they were learning the same as me. After noticing every class decided to teach students English from the start, I asked my English teacher why he did so. He responded that it was the school’s decision.  When I heard such response, “I took the English exam in the standard exam, right?” I asked myself. I could not understand what administrators were thinking. Teaching English from the beginning totally wasted our time. Thus, after the several classes, I chose to be a “bad” student. I did not follow English class lecture anymore. Instead, I did other classes’ homework and practices.

I stopped doing so in the second year because the teacher finished teaching grammars that students learned before entering high school. Surprisingly, he did a meaningless thing for a whole year. Nevertheless, I believed teachers would teach students some useful knowledge and skills in the rest of the two years. Yet he disappointed me again.

“Bob will have been fixing his camera in 2 weeks.”

Besides me, every classmate remembered this sentence, which contained a complex tense. My teacher told us this sentence structure was crucial. Thus, we memorized its rule again and again, wrote many example sentences, and answered countless questions related to this grammar. For the last year, I learned abundant complex grammar. I thought I was familiar with English grammar. However, after I turned my first paper, which contained many complex grammars, in UWP 22, the teacher told me to rewrite it and wrote a lot of question marks on the margin. I was shocked again. “Does this teacher know grammar very well?” I asked myself, but, finally, I changed the paper as he told me.

One day, I asked my roommate, Andrew, about do American people use complex tenses or grammar in the paper. He said teachers told them to write active and simple sentences. What I wrote in the first paper was filled with passive words, which I spent one year on learning. After learning so much grammar, I used to feel so proud of it. Today, I feel embarrassed.

Suddenly, I realized two years in the high school was pointless. In the first year, teachers wasted time on teaching easy grammars students already learned well before. In the second year, teachers wasted time on teaching complex grammar students will not use in the future. I thought the high school supposes to improve students’ English level and use time sufficiently.

I wish, someday, you can revise the content of English book. I suggest you select English textbooks that allow students to practice their writing, reading, listening, and speaking more. First, the English textbook should delete the part of easy grammar. Therefore, the textbook can contain more vocabularies. After students learned more words, reading a passage or writing a paper is not a problem anymore. Moreover, the English textbook needs to include more speaking activities or homework. After all, English is a skill for communication. If students only know how to read and write a paper, they will not be successful. Finally, the book should adopt complex readings abstracted from original English articles or books, for example, “Death on the Nile”. I used to like this book very much. In this novel, the organization is perfect. This is why it can become a famous mystery fiction. Reading complex passages, students can improve their grammar efficiently and ensure what they learn is essential. Overall, I believe these four changes will make our English textbook more useful and will advance students’ English level and score significantly.

Thanks for your time and attention,

Jiaduan Zhang

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