It's 7.30am and the walk to class takes me past scores of Chinesestudents reciting English in preparation for a constant stream of tests and exams.
早晨7点30分,在去上课的路上,我从很多中国学生身旁经过,他们在背诵英文,为即将到来的如浪潮般的大小考做准备。

I only recently arrived to study in China, but it doesn't take long to observe that here memorisation is paramount. Remembering rather than understanding appears to be the principal goal of the education system – and that seems archaic to the Western eye. However, the Chinese believe memorising provides a route to understanding.
我最近才来到中国学习,但是很快我就观察到在这儿死记硬背是至高无上的。记忆,而非理解,成了教育体系的主要目标——而在西方人眼中,这种做法似乎比较陈旧。然而,中国人认为强记是实现理解的一种方式。

Professor An Ran, dean of international education at South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, explains: "Whereas Westerners see memorisation and understanding as mutually exclusive, Chinese tend to see them as related phenomena."
据国际研究显明,华南理工大学(该大学位于广州)国际教育学院院长安然教授解释说:“尽管西方人认为强记和理解是相互排斥的,而中国人却倾向于把它们看成有关联的现象。”

International studies show that China is among the most successful education systems in the world, which would seem to validate this approach.
中国的教育体系位于世界最成功的教育体系之列,这一点也证实了强记做法的有效性。

Given that functional literacy in China requires a knowledge of 3,000-4,000 characters, it is easy to see why repeating and remembering is so important.
考虑到若想在中国获得功能性识字能力只需要掌握3000-4000个汉字,那么就很容易理解为什么重复记忆是如此得重要。

At UK universities, the ability to apply understanding is the primary goal. Dr Amanda Sives, politics lecturer at the University of Liverpool, says: "University is not about memorising dates, remembering quotes, or learning narratives. It involves understanding ideas and concepts and being able to use them to develop relevant, evidence-based arguments."
在英国的大学里,“运用理解”这种能力是学习的主要目标。阿曼达·西维斯(Amanda Sives)博士是利物浦大学的政治学讲师,他说:“大学并不是要硬背数据,死记名人名言,或者学会叙述的方法。它包括理解一些想法和概念,进而能够使用它们去发展一些相关的、有据可依的观点。”

In China, the focus on memory begins early – and the three years spent in high school are almost solely dedicated to preparation for the gaokao, or university entrance exam.
在中国,记忆学习很早就开始了——而花费在高中时期的三年几乎就是单单为了准备高考(或被称为高等学校招生考试)。

A former student at my university, Xiao Yu, tells me that for these three years he studied eight hours a day, Monday to Friday, and then a further six hours on a Saturday. This only increased when he went on to university, studying biotechnology, almost entirely in English.
肖宇是我的一名学长,他告诉我,在高中那三年里他每天都要学习8个小时,从周一到周五,之后在周六还要再学6个小时。当他进入大学之后,这种学习的时间反而增加了,他当时学的是生物技术,几乎是全英文的。

So important is the gaokao, that students have reportedly resorted to using intravenous drips to extend the time they are able to spend studying.
高考太重要了,曾有报道称学生借助静脉注射来延长他们可用来学习的时间。

Of course, both education systems have strengths and weaknesses; I am not here to pass judgment on a system I have barely two months knowledge of. What is interesting though, is how education in China prepares its young people for the future.
当然,教育体系都各有利弊;我在这儿并不是指责这个我认识还不到两个月的体系。不过有趣的是中国是如何为自己的未来准备年轻人的。

Xiao says teaching methods heavily influence the subjects students go on to select. Years of rote learning create an inherent preference for science, maths and business subjects, while the arts are largely ignored.
肖宇说教学方法深深地影响了学生对学科的选择。成年累月机械式的学习使得学生对科学、数学以及商业类学科产生一种内在的偏爱,而艺术却在很大程度上被忽略了。

This is not a coincidence, as China looks towards becoming the major world power in the 21st century. It is already creating a generation of scientists, engineers and business leaders, with the skills vitally needed in a rapidly developing nation.
这并非巧合,因为中国期盼在二十一世纪成为世界的主力。它正在创造新一代的科学家、工程师和商业领袖,而这些人拥有的技能则是一个快速发展的国家迫切需要的。

Studying for the joy of learning and the expansion of our knowledge is one of the great freedoms we enjoy in the UK. At the same time though, my experience so far has allowed me to appreciate how well memorisation as a learning method is working for the Chinese.
学习以享其乐趣、拓展知识,这是我们在英国享受的伟大自由之一。不过与此同时,我到目前为止所有的经历使我领会到对于中国人而言,死记硬背是一种运作极为良好的学习方法。