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Modernizing English teacher education in China: Faculty perspectives

Timothy W Taylor, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study is an interdisciplinary inquiry into the social dynamics of Chinese English teacher education and the process of its change as viewed from the perspective of teacher education faculty. Chinese English teacher education is a product of diverse and conflicting socio-cultural influences, among which Marxism, Confucianism, Russian linguistics, and Western teaching practices feature prominently. Chinese English teacher training is adopting a more modern approach in response to a burgeoning population of English students, economic demand, technological advances, increased focus on the communicative aspects of language learning, and international exchange. The principal research was conducted as a case study at China's largest teacher training university, Hebei Teachers' University, from 1997 to 1999. The study presents the results of 54 in-depth phenomenological interviews with 20 English teacher education faculty. The analysis of data from the faculty interviews reveals recurrent themes about the process of English teacher education. Among the dominant influences on English teacher training are an academic culture favoring theory above practice; a default teacher training strategy of learning by imitation; a cultural ethic mandating harmony in collegial relations; and the bureaucratic structure of the university, which inhibits innovation. The process and prospects of modernizing teacher education are explored and presented. Among the influences of modernization effecting faculty are increased exposure to alternative teacher training strategies, study abroad, international professional development, university recruitment practices, foreign teachers, and the growing availability of teaching technology. For historical perspective, the study explores the history of English teacher education in China from the beginning of the missionary era up to the modern period in which the study was conducted (1664–1997), suggesting cultural, institutional and political precursors to the context of the study. The study also explores a philosophical foundation for the faculty perspectives with a discussion of phenomenology as it relates to the exploration of meaning in individual undertaking. Making meaning is a process that takes place within a landscape of one's own personal, social and cultural experience, which in turn serves as a constant referent. The study offers recommendations for modernizing teacher education as a response to the faculty perspectives.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Language arts

Recommended Citation

Taylor, Timothy W, "Modernizing English teacher education in China: Faculty perspectives" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3118335.