Working and teaching in China for many foreigners has been a wonderful life experience.
They will go home and speak fondly of their time here and of the great students they have worked with.
China's passion for learning is culturally and historically entrenched and is evident in the many assorted private learning institutions one can find in any Chinese city or town.
Perhaps one of the downsides of the push into foreign language study and the mass marketing of language learning has also been the tendency for the occurrence of cliché.
Phrases once original and interesting now prevalent in an IELTS practice exercise book soon become worn out after several million students have learnt them.
For example, there often appears a tendency for the use of the phrase, “a hot topic” or “heated controversy” to refer to a question.
Elsewhere the expression, “every coin has two sides” or a “double edged sword” has been used too often when trying to present a balanced argument.
Likewise the introduction opener, “with the increasing development of society… bla bla bla”
Now there is nothing wrong with using such “key phrases” though students need to realize that as soon as they do, they are more easily and rapidly grouped at a 5 or 5.5 level.
Using a cliché’ symbolizes to an examiner that the candidate hasn’t yet developed an English level high enough to move beyond “rote learning” phrases.
Now those IELTS practice books one receives and completes in an IELTS intensive course are useful though to gain maximum benefit and to rise above to a 6 or higher level the candidate needs to show more flexibility and originality.
For example, rather than starting off your paragraph “with the increasing development of society…” why not try “As times change and we move further into the 21st century bla bla bla”
Or instead of “every coin has two sides” why not say “there are several ways we can look at this.”
The same message but with a different way of delivering it will certainly open up a laowai’s ears. Creative, risk taking use of language supported by a strong grammar foundation and varied vocabulary offer greater promise than standard, unemotional copied responses.