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New book lets learners perform Chinese stories in English
2021-01-19 
Stories of China: Performed in English [Photo provided to China Daily]

The first set of Chinese stories presented in English scripts, titled Stories of China: Performed in English, was officially published by Foreign Languages Press. Planned by the New Channel International Education Group with the participation of playwrights from China, the United Kingdom and the United States, the book provides a new way for young people to learn English while inheriting and spreading Chinese culture.

Edited by David Symington, a British liberal arts education expert and deputy dean of the New Channel Chinese Story Research Institute, the book contains 20 English scripts in novel formats covering a wide range of subjects, including folklore of the 12 zodiac signs, historical allusions to Su Wu the Shepherd, biographical stories of great figures such as Qu Yuan and Lu Xun, as well as examples of ancient Chinese science and technology, such as Zhaozhou Bridge.

Unlike the most common English scripts for young readers on the market which are based on adaptations of European and American stories, those presented in this book are unique for being based on classic Chinese stories, readapted and written in English. The book is divided into first to third grades in terms of grammar and vocabulary difficulty, making it suitable for young English learners from elementary school to junior and high school.

All the scripts in the book are written by top playwrights with elegant, pure and vivid language. The scripts are provided with a bilingual summary of the story in both Chinese and English, so that readers can fully understand the plot as well as the history and culture behind it. Readers can not only improve their English skills through immersive reading and performance but also appreciate Chinese culture.

David Symington [Photo provided to China Daily]

With economic globalization and the improvement of China's comprehensive national strength, more and more Chinese children have the opportunity to go abroad to see the world. English is not only a language skill, but also a medium for connecting the world and sharing Chinese culture. In response to this new demand, three years ago, New Channel set up the Chinese Story Research Institute, and David Symington is the first foreign vice-president of the institute.

With dual master degrees in Classics from Oxford University and Chinese Philosophy from Fudan University, he has a thorough knowledge of both Chinese and Western culture in drama education. After joining the China Story Research Institute, one of his important tasks has been to promote the integration of English and Chinese traditional culture in language learning. In his view, to solve the shortcomings of Chinese students in English learning, drama education is a good breakthrough.

"Drama education can be a very important supplement to English learning," he says. At the end of the 19th century the UK incorporated drama education into their primary education. With the help of drama, learners can memorize linguistic knowledge immersively, devote themselves to the expression of sentences, and transform linguistic knowledge into thoughts, feelings and opinions. At the same time, drama has irreplaceable advantages in cultivating students' abilities in cooperation, imagination and social interaction. Of particular note, children can learn to perform Chinese stories in English, which can further deepen their understanding and perception of Chinese culture, cultivating cultural self-confidence with Chinese roots and a global perspective.

Hu Min, English education expert and founder of the New Channel, said the integration of traditional culture and English teaching has become a trend, guiding young people to bring their own wisdom and profound cultural heritage to tell Chinese stories to the world.

New Channel will offer special courses on Stories of China: Performed in English in its many schools across the country, and collaborate with primary and secondary schools in Beijing, Shanghai to offer English drama courses on a trial basis. Hu hopes the initiative will set off a new wave of passionate learning among young people.

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