Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

What does this sound like to you? Does it sound like a group of people arguing? Does it sound like a large family all talking at once? A party? Those are all good guesses! But this is the sound of a group of students in China. They are speaking English. Does it sound strange to you? This is how many people in China learn how to speak English. Today’s Spotlight is on a way of learning English called “Crazy English”.

Voice 2  

English is the most popular language for business and international communication. Millions of people all over the world are learning English. This is especially true in China. Some people even call China’s interest in English “English Fever”. For more than 20 years people in China have been excited to study English.

Photo by Kit Sanchez

Voice 1  

But for people in China, English is more than just another language. People see it as a tool to improve their lives. Many of these people believe that English can help them succeed in business. Others think it will help them find love. Some studies estimate that there are around 300 million people in China who are studying English.

Voice 2  

Years ago, Li Yang was one of these people studying English. Li Yang was born in the Northwest Chinese province of Xinjiang. His parents worked very hard at their jobs. They wanted Li to also work hard. If Li made a mistake on his school work, his mother would tear up the paper he was writing on.

Voice 1  

Li did not enjoy school very much. He did not enjoy studying. Li was also very quiet and shy. He did not like talking to people. When Li went to university, he had to take an English test. This was an important test that all students needed to take. So Li and his friend decided to read and speak outside every day. Li found that the louder he spoke, the better he felt. He said that he felt brave. Li believed that when he stopped shouting, he stopped learning.

Voice 2  

Reading and speaking is not a new way to learn how to speak a new language. Li took this method and made it louder. He began speaking English everywhere he went. When his friends went to sleep, he went outside and spoke there.

Voice 1  

When it was time to take the English test, Li got second place. The other students were surprised. Li kept using this method of learning. And after some time, he began to sound like a native English speaker.

Photo by Green Chameleon

Voice 2  

When Li finished school he got a job as an electrical engineer. He also taught English classes in his free time. After a few years he decided to quit his job and start his own English teaching company. Li and his sister rented an office and slept on the floor. His sister helped to manage the business and Li taught the classes. The business was named “Crazy English.” Crazy is another word for “insane” or “wild”. Li called the method of teaching “Crazy English” because it was so different.

Voice 1  

Li worked very hard teaching English. After a short time, more people heard about Li and his teaching methods. People wrote to him asking for materials.

Voice 2  

On one teaching trip, Li met Ouyang Weijian, the leader of an elementary school. Ouyang saw Li speak to a crowd of people. He was surprised by Li’s methods. Ouyang invited Li to teach an English class in his city. Li agreed. But Li did not know that so many people would attend. Five thousand people came to hear Li teach English. Li was very happy about the event.

Voice 1  

Years passed and the business grew. Ouyang joined Li Yang as the business manager. The crowds of people got larger and larger. People treated Li like a famous person. His method of teaching was very different.

Voice 2  

Going to a Li Yang English class is like going to a music event. Li Yang stands on the stage and shouts. The crowd repeats what he says. Together, thousands of people practice English words. Each word has a physical movement. The crowd raises and moves their arms together while shouting. This is Crazy English.

Voice 1  

Most people in China, and other places in the world, learn English in small classrooms. They study from books. They learn the words. They memorize the rules of the English language. But they are afraid to make a mistake. So they do not speak English out loud. Li wanted to change this. He wanted to make people feel strong in speaking English.

Voice 2  

But people do not always like Li’s methods. Some people say that methods like this do not follow Chinese culture. Or, they are just a quick idea to make money. But every person learns differently. Something that works for one person may not work for another.

Voice 1  

And this method seems to work for many of Li’s students. They enjoy Crazy English and believe that it is a good way to improve speaking English. Li has taught business groups. He has taught soldiers on top of the Great Wall of China. He helped many people improve their English to prepare for the 2008 Olympic events. In all these different places, Li tells his students one important lesson. He says they must “love losing face”. In a video for young adults, he said:

Voice 3  

“You have to make a lot of mistakes. You have to be laughed at by a lot of people. But that does not matter. Your future is totally different from other people’s futures.”

Voice 2

Li wants students to know that it is good to make mistakes. He wants them to enjoy making mistakes. Because he knows that if you are making mistakes, you are trying. And trying something is the first step to success.

Voice 1  

Today, the business of Crazy English is smaller than it was in the past. And Li has had some legal troubles. But the Crazy English method continues.

Voice 2  

What do you think about Li Yang’s Crazy English teaching method? Would shouting help you improve your English? Tell us how you practice English. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Joshua Leo. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. Some of the audio in this program came from YouTube. You can find links to this audio on the script page for this program at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Crazy English’.

Voice 2  

Look for our free listening app in the Google Play Store and in iTunes. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

What is your favorite way to practice a language? Do people think it is odd?

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