A Socio-Political View of English Language Teaching in the Chinese Context

Yaying Zhang


In spite of the urgent need for research into the socio-political contexts of the teaching and learning of English as a second/foreign language, the predominant paradigm of inquiry into EFL in the Chinese context still focuses on the functional aspects of second language education. In order to provide a critical understanding of the larger context of the hegemony of “global English,” this paper examines the teaching and learning of English in China as an integral part of the politics of the global spread of English as well as the political and ideological apparatuses of the third-world/postcolonial culture in China. Informed by Foucault’s archaeological/genealogical methods, I trace the history of English language teaching in China, from colonial contexts in the 19th century to postcolonial conditions of English language teaching at the beginning of the 21st century. I argue that the teaching and learning of English in a third-world/postcolonial country is never a simple transparent process with clear-cut meanings. The ambiguous legacy of English language teaching, embedded in colonial/postcolonial relations, defines and complicates the connection between local specificities and the global context of the hegemony of English.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/elt.v1n2p59

English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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