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Chinese Colleges to Use Overseas Textbooks

Xinhua, 4 February 2002

BEIJING, February 4 (Xinhua) -- Bilingual education is becoming a trend in China as 30 of the country's institutes of higher learning plan to use two physics textbooks from the U.S.-based California Institute of Technology, according to the Monday edition of Beijing Morning Post.

The two textbooks, the Mechanical World and Beyond the Mechanical World, originally published in 1985, will be used as college physics teaching material in China from next semester, starting in March.

According to the Publishing House of Beijing University, publisher of the bilingual textbooks, a series of teaching materials will be produced simultaneously including photocopies of the original English edition, a translated Chinese version and a 52-volume set of multimedia audiovisuals and reference books for both teachers and students.

According to the newspaper, China's Ministry of Education has called on institutes of higher learning to use foreign languages to teach courses, especially those related to information technology, biology, new materials, new techniques, finance and law.

Of the 1,440 courses launched by Qinghua University, more than 50 use original English edition textbooks. Within the next three years, over 500 of the university's core courses will be taught using original English editions. And in Beijing University, the proportion of courses thus taught will rise to 20 percent.

But the paper also pointed out some problems which may block the popularity of original overseas textbooks in China.

Firstly, the use of original foreign textbooks is still confined to a small range of subjects such as economics, management, medicine and computer technology. Secondly, the print quality and translation of the foreign textbooks need to be further improved. And lastly, students may find it hard to afford imported textbooks which are usually priced between 30 and 50 U. S. dollars.