China Holistic English

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A few years ago we used to host some pieces written by Martin Wolff and Niu Quiang about their experiments in trying to teach English in new ways in China, which have since evolved into the China Holistic English site (link broken).

Later, Martin wanted to move the pieces to a new site with someone and asked us to take them down. We were experiencing some technical difficulties and couldn't do it as fast as he wanted, so he launched a breach of copyright complaint against us, even though we managed to do things in a couple of days.

He then fell out with the person on the new site and later regretted having made the move. He was a complex and prickly character who rubbed many people up the wrong way, but he also made a lot of friends.
He and I continued to communicate by email after our difficulties, and I always enjoyed his sarcasm and wit. His papers were also peppered with it. Many disliked his ideas, and I disagreed with plenty, but they were heartfelt and thought-out. He was never dull and often had a lot to offer. I was saddened to receive an email from a colleague of his that informed his mailing list that he had died recently, and I wish Holistic English well.

Categories: Asian Blog, UsingEnglish Content


That's sad enough to know. I have had a look at the China Holistic English blog. It seems to be a good accomplishment. I hope the "successors" of the blog will keep it going "from strength to strength" for the good of learning English in China.

Martin, I know u too well to be fooled by your usual trick. you wrote the above message, still bluffing.

Martin made many enemies, but he did not write this- I wrote the post in response to a private email from a friend after he died. If he is alive, then I was fooled, but I have seen nothing to confirm that. He and I had a very bumpy relationship, but I could see a lot of good in what he was trying to do in his teaching, and that is what I posted about.

I was so shocked and saddened by the news that I wish it was not true. Martin told me to publish the workbook but I had been hesitating and postponing considering the number of potential users of the book and also our disagreement on putting the Chinese vocabulary list. But now I will publish the workbook at whatever cost in memory of the hard work of Martin.

He had had such a profound impact on my mind and life as well that I can never get over it. By doing this, I wish I could continue promote learning English through visual-audio materials in China to achieve learning autonomy outside classroom.

Synthesizing cognitive linguistics and SLA findings as well as Teaching Methodologies, I have developed seven metacognitive strategies for autonomous learning through movies which was published by Journal of Social Science of Tongji University in Issue 4, 2011(in Chinese) and also in my book The Localization of Cognitive SLA Theories: Cognitive Strategies for English Teaching in China(in English) published by Jilin University Press in 2010.
Whoever is interested in the Holistic Approach and how to make it more effective through learner training can contact me at
[email protected]

Many thanks!

Niu Qiang

All the best with the publication.

I am Aaron Wolff the youngest Son of Martin Wolff. I want to know more about my father. We separated when I was only too young to understand. I have only few beautiful memories of him.
Please contact me on my email @[email protected]

I never met Martin, though we did communicate over the web for several years. He was a sparky person on the internet, though I never doubted his commitment and dedication to what he was doing, and his belief that he was doing something to improve education in China. He certainly was applying analytical tools to look into things and to try to find out what worked. He and I didn't always get along and there were some bumps along the way, but I am glad to have known him. We did have a fight, one where I thought he was unfair to us, though he'd probably say the same about me. But we managed to sort things out and get along again. I think that he really was trying to improve the standards in the tiers of education in which he worked, both looking at the teaching and the studying.

Hello Richard,
We just found and it's so helpful. We love it! This was a sad but a brilliant article. Spoken English in China might not be perfect yet but I think their interest in the language is massive. Here's our little help to assist people improving pronunciation: it's a blog where people can listen to mystery, terror, comedy stories and more for free in 3 languages: English, French and Spanish. it's been an interesting discovery for us as well so thank you so much for sharing. Great article, Many thanks!

No longer a working link.

Thanks for pointing that out. I'm afraid that this happens under the circumstances.

China Holistic English

I know Martin Wolff, he is my idol! Always love to read his pieces. By the way, its great see that you host some pieces written by Martin Wolff! It seems to be a good accomplishment ;)

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