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Famous People

Shiyi Zhang: Groundbreaker in English Teaching

Shiyi Zhang (1886-1969), famous applied linguist, expert in foreign language education.

Shiyi Zhang went to study in the United States in 1917, and received his Master's degree from the Teachers College of Columbia University. In 1944, he was appointed Dean of the Teachers College of Central University. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, he taught as a professor at the Teachers College of Nanjing University, was a professor and a dean of the Department of Education and the Department of Foreign Languages of Nanjing Normal College (today’s Nanjing Normal University).

Shiyi Zhang spent 60 years of his career teaching and researching the Chinese language, foreign languages, and English phonetics at universities. He cultivated a large number of talent in foreign language teaching and research, and made great contributions promoting of foreign language education in China. He presided over the development of English curricular standards for junior and senior high schools. He also translated the first English-Chinese dictionary: The Webster's Dictionary of English.

Shiyi Zhang advocated the principle of “Four Proficiencies” in teaching English: proficiencies in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. By training students to achieve these "Four Proficiencies" in a balanced development, he helped overcome language barriers and promote cultural exchanges among all of humankind.