In the proposal, Xu said that English should not be a core subject like Chinese and math during compulsory education and more course hours should be given to improving students' skills in physical education, music and art.
Compulsory这个词我们都很熟悉，表示“强制的，义务的，必须做的”意思，除了表示“义务教育（compulsory education）”以外，学校里设置的“必修课”是compulsory courses，再比如，It is compulsory for all motorcyclists to wear helmets.（所有骑摩托车的人都必须戴头盔。）
Xu said English and other foreign languages should also not be included as compulsory subjects for the national college entrance exam.
While English takes up about 10 percent of class hours, less than 10 percent of university graduates use the language at work, he said.
Moreover, smart translation devices can offer sophisticated translation services and in the age of artificial intelligence, translators will be among the top 10 professions to be eliminated, he added.
According to a online poll by China Youth Daily, more than 110,000 respondents opposed the proposal and said English should be taught early at schools to enable China to compete with other countries. However, around 100,000 people supported the proposal and said it would be better to spend more time learning Chinese language and culture.
"I'm not saying that we shouldn't learn English. I'm saying that we shouldn't let the whole population learn the language while only a few can use it, and this just doesn't make sense. According to data released in 2019, there are about 40 million students learning English in preschool and compulsory education, but probably less than 4 million will use it at work. They learn English for nine years and in the end only 1/10 of them will use the language. It is a waste of educational resources to make children shoulder such a heavy burden and ask them to learn a course that they may not use in the future."
The Ministry of Education made English a compulsory course from third grade in 2001. The decision had proved to be a smart one as hundreds of millions of Chinese students have broadened their horizons and improved their cultural awareness and critical thinking ability through learning the language.
The key is to reform China's exam-oriented education system so that English teaching will focus on improving students' language skills, not exam-taking ability.
Removing English as a core subject will only result in greater imbalances between urban and rural students in English proficiency as urban students will more likely resort to costly after-school training to learn the language.