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Britain's Chinese come out Top !

Just behind Trafalgar Square, not far from Piccadilly Circus, lies Soho, famed as the centre for London's night life, with its bars and restaurants and theatres. But these days Soho is famed too as the heart of London's "Chinatown". Walk down Gerrard Street, where the road signs are in Chinese and the phone boxes have tiled roofs, and you could easily imagine yourself in Hong Kong. Britain's Chinese community has taken root in the heart of the capital, and is doing very well, thank you.  
Martin Chow, a student at London university, is perfectly frank.

     "My parents came to Britain over 25 years ago, from Hong Kong. My dad couldn't speak much English, and my mum couldn't speak a word. She still doesn't speak it very well. But they pushed me through school, and made sure I got to university. In June, I'll be graduating with a degree in computer engineering. I should be able to get a very good job quite quickly."

     In a year's time, Martin will almost certainly  have joined the ranks of the well-educated well-paid Chinese British, who make up one of the biggest success stories in modern Britain.

     Fifty years ago, most of the Chinese immigrants in Britain were poorly educated, and worked in arduous conditions in relatively poorly paid jobs, notably in catering; but according to a survey published last Spring, Britain's 170,000 Chinese are now the best qualified, most highly educated and most economically successful ethnic group in the United Kingdom.

     Over 50% of all young Chinese British now get university degrees or other higher education diplomas — about double the national average; and unemployment among Chinese British is lower than for any other ethnic group. Martin Chow has good reason to be confident.

     Like many of the Hong Kong Chinese who came to Britain in the 1960's and 1970's, Wu Chow, Martin's father, arrived almost penniless. Working long hours as a cook in a restaurant, and living very frugally, Wu nevertheless managed to save up  some of his meagre earnings, and within five years had enough money in the bank to be able to open his own restaurant.

     Wu's Chinese Takeaway was certainly not luxurious; however, situated near the middle of a small town in the English Midlands, it provided a service that no other local restaurant (except for a fish 'n' chip shop) was providing : carry-out food at affordable prices; it soon became popular.

     The takeaway was very much a family business, the Chows lived in a flat near the shop, and Wu and his wife served Chinese food from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. six days a week. Sometimes, the shop would stay open later, till 11 or midnight. Martin and his brother Brian would help out after school most days, running errands, chopping vegetables, or washing the pans.

     In spite of this, Wu made sure that his children did their schoolwork properly; if something had to be learned for homework, Martin and Brian were not allowed to go to bed until they knew it.

     "Yes, we had to work hard even when we were quite small," says Martin, "But it seemed quite normal to us. Everyone in the family worked hard. Chinese people believe in hard work and in family values; it's part of our tradition, and I think that's why we're successful."

chinese     The experience of the Chow family was mirrored by thousands of other Chinese immigrant families all over Britain. While most Asian and West Indian immigrants tended to group together and form concentrated ethnic communities in specific towns and cities, the first generation of Chinese immigrants dispersed nationwide , specialising in restaurants and takeaways, and determined to make sure that their own children would never experience the poverty and hardship that they often had to endure.

     Sociologists point out that other immigrant groups in history have followed the classic "rags-to-riches" path; but none before has ever done so in the space of a single generation.

     Today's young Chinese British are ambitious and hard-working; and it is not just the young men. Unlike some other ethnic groups, Chinese parents in Britain are as keen to encourage their daughters as their sons, and plenty  of young Chinese women are now graduating as lawyers, doctors and accountants. Indeed, the differences in qualifications and earnings between men and women among "second generation Chinese British" are less than they are for any other ethnic group, including "ethnic British".

     Martin's girlfriend, Tania (born to Chinese parents in Singapore) should qualify as a lawyer next year.

     "I think we can look forward to a fairly comfortable life, for us and our children" says Martin. "That's the reward for hard work , and its part of our way of life. Look at Hong Kong and Taiwan and Singapore, and look at the way China's booming now people have a bit more freedom!"

    "Would you go back and live in the Far East?"

     "Maybe, but I don't think so. After all, I was born in England, and I like it here. I know I'm Chinese, but I've got a British passport! I feel I'm English too!"



WORD GUIDE

frank: direct, clear - arduous: difficult - catering: the restaurant sector - frugal: simple - meagre earnings: the little money he earned - flat: apartment - run errands: go out to do small jobs - West Indian: Caribbean - endure: go through - accountant: financial expert -


 
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Britain's Chinese come out on top



Interactive blank-fill exercise:

Complete these extracts from the article, filling in the blanks with alternative expressions to those in the printed article. Think creatively in order to find appropriate alternative expressions to use.


   "My parents came to Britain , from Hong Kong. My dad couldn't speak much English, and my mum   . She still doesn't speak it very well. But they pushed me through school, and made sure I got to university. l'll be graduating with a degree in computer engineering. I should be able to  , a very good job quite  .   "

   In a year's time, Martin   have joined the ranks of the well-educated well-paid Chinese British, who  one of the biggest success stories in    Britain......
(one paragraph omitted)
   Over    of all young Chinese British now get university degrees or other higher education
diplomas, about    the national average; and unemployment among Chinese British is lower than for any other ethnic group. Martin Chow has  reason to be confident.

   Like many of the Hong Kong Chinese who came to Britain in the 1960's and 1970's, Wu Chow, Martin's father, arrived almost penniless. Working long hours as a cook in a restaurant, and living very frugally, Wu nevertheless managed to  some of , and within five years had enough money in the bank to be able to open his own restaurant.
Wu's Chinese Takeaway was certainly not luxurious; however,    near the    of a small town in the English Midlands, it provided a service that no other local restaurant (except a fisn 'n' chip shop) was  , carry-out food at affordable prices.

Interactive:  Deciphering a text.  

Here is a section of the article. However all the punctuation has been removed and most of the words have been joined together. Try to reconstitute the original text. The text in the box below is editable.

 Yeswehadtoworkhardevenwhenwewerequite smallsaysMartinbutitseemedquitenormal touseveryoneinthefamilyworkedhardchinese people believeinhardwork andinfamilyvaluesitspartofour traditionandIthinkthatswhyweresuccessful


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Linguapress.com
Advanced level English resource
Level - Difficult.
CEFR  LEVEL :  B2
IELTS Level :  5.6
Flesch-Kincaid  scores
Reading ease level:
60 - Fairly difficult
Grade level: 9.7


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Online English grammar
Nouns in English
Word order in English
Reported questions in English
Miscellaneous
Language and style 
Themed crosswords for EFL
The short story of English


Originally published in Spectrum magazine .
© Linguapress renewed 2020 


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