Japan’s Asahi Shimbun has an article that includes a discussion of the “Crazy English” (Fēngkuáng Yīngyǔ / 瘋狂英語 / 疯狂英语) movement: Chinese patriots burn with English fever. Like so much else in China, the movement is infused with patriotism (or scary nationalism, depending on your perspective) and cultural chauvinism (tricky to pull off when the subject is learning a foreign language).
“English is merely a tool for earning money. It’s an inferior language that relies on an alphabet with just 26 letters. How can it even compare to our language, with a sea of Chinese characters?”
So cackled a loudspeaker recently on the grounds of a junior high school in a tiny town in China’s southern Hebei province.
Wild applause broke out from the crowd of 8,000 junior and senior high school students. A red banner across the basketball court proclaimed: “Never let your country down.”
The rousing speaker was Li Yang, purveyor of a unique method of English study: shouting. Using Li’s “Crazy English” method, devised about 10 years ago, students spout short sentences loudly and at rapid-fire speed, over and over again.
The author of well over 100 books, the charismatic Li gives about 300 lectures a year around the country. About 30 million people have taken his courses.
His motivational secret is a single, yet simple principle: “Mastering English and thereby enriching our country is an act of patriotism.”
The sentiment has proved popular. The darling of China’s English-teaching world, Li considers himself a patriot, first and foremost.
“I promote the love-thy-country angle because I don’t want our people to forget China after they acquire English,” he explains. “I want them to use English and spread Chinese as a world language.”