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Reframing Research and Teaching for the Chinese EFL Classroom: Perception, Practice and Paradigm August 21, Kunming, China Huizhong Shen Faculty of Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Reframing Research and Teaching for the Chinese EFL Classroom: Perception, Practice and Paradigm August 21, Kunming, China Huizhong Shen Faculty of Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reframing Research and Teaching for the Chinese EFL Classroom: Perception, Practice and Paradigm August 21, Kunming, China Huizhong Shen Faculty of Education and Social Work The University of Sydney

2 Presentation overview Misconceptions in EFL teaching and research What does the research say? How does English education stack up in China? Need for a contextualised language model Confucianism as pedagogy

3 Misconceptions in teaching Misconception: CLT or a recipe for failure Communicative language teaching vs. Grammar-Translation method ›Since Hymes (1972) coined “communicative competence”, CLT has become the most popularised approach to language teaching. ›An account of theories of language teaching and learning without including this would be rendered incomplete. ›The literature often sets CLT in polarity against a more traditional approach such as the traditional Grammar- Translation method.

4 Misconceptions in teaching A more typical argument is that “language is learnable, but not teachable”. (Grandy, 1999) The “deaf and mute” learner syndrome in Chinese English classroom is attributed to Grammar-Translation instruction. (Zhang,2008; Zhao, 2009) Learners and teachers are aspired to acquire an identifiable native speaker English accent (e.g. American or British English). Chinese or China English is generally referred as Chinglish – a substandard English.

5 Examples of atypical English - teaching Perception of Chinese English “I started to teach English majors in Chinese universities in the seventies…. Student addressed me as Teacher Shi in English. Although English speakers would not use this form, the alternative Miss Shi was considered bourgeois, so this was one of the many examples of how “Chinglish” (Chinese-English) terms were created.” (Shi, 2002, pp ) The ‘native speaker idealization myth’ (Kachru, 1987) is reflected in a monolingual approach to teaching as a hidden curriculum by the following pictures.

6 Different approaches British Hills

7 Different approaches New Oriental College

8 Different approaches

9 Misconceptions in research Misconception: Following “a single monochrome standard” (Quirk, 1985) Native speaker English vs. Chinese or China English Research on Chinese English is problematic on the following accounts: (1)it adopts a less progressive approach to a nativized English in China; (2)it hardly departs from a traditional model that uses a code-bound reference to a native speaker variety; (3)it focuses on developmental learner English rather than proficient user English (e.g. Kirkpatrick & Xu, 2002); (4)It stops short in analysis at the level of lexis, syntax and discourse; (5)it puts down Chinese English by citing atypical language examples (e.g. Wei & Fei, 2003); and moreover; (6)There is little recognition or documentation of successes that have been achieved in Chinese EFL teaching and learning. Shen, H. (2009). Problematising Research on Chinese English: Issues, Stances and Reconceptualization. In H. Shen & J.Yun (Eds.). Developments and prospects of English teaching in China (pp. 3-20). Shanghai: Fudan University Press.

10 Examples of atypical English - research (1) English in development (lexis) Recently I have read a book named ‘My experiences in west and east’. It was writed by Wang Yaohui, a diplomat and a successful businessman. The book descripted his experiences from a Zhiqing in China to a respectable man in Canada. It also told me the big differences between East and West, including the history, culture, [and] government style. I learned a lot from it, and knew the hardships living in a west country for a Chinese. (From an except used in Kirkpatrick & Xu, 2002, p.269)

11 Examples of atypical English (2) English in development (syntax) “Mary yesterday bought a dictionary.” “For me to get up before 6 o’clock in the morning is impossible.” “It is a hard job but someone must do it.” (Jia, 1990)

12 Examples of atypical English (3) Trivialization of atypical Chinese English “Heart flower angry open” (Xinhua nufang - be in raptures) “Good good study, day day up.” (Haohao xuexi, tiantian xiang shang - Study well and make progress everyday.) “People mountain people sea.” (Renshan renhai - be packed like sardines) (Wei & Fei, 2003)

13 What does the research say? A single monochrome standard” (Quirk, 1985)

14 What does the research say? Early debates on the same issue in the UK The Newbolt Report (1925): The teaching of English should centre on the teaching of English literature. Non-standard English are the “evil habits of the home and street”. The Bullock Report (1975): The teaching of English should focus on the development of speech…that a child’s accent should be accepted, and that to attempt to suppress it is irrational and neither humane or necessary…. (In Urszula, 2001)

15 What does the research say? Some of the consequences of conducting ELT practices around the central figure of the ‘omniscient ’ native speaker — elevated to the status of a totem — have been profoundly deleterious to the whole enterprise. Among other things, it has bred an extremely enervating inferiority complex among many a non-native speaker learner/teacher, and helped spawn unfair and discriminatory hiring practices. (Rajagopalan 2004: 114)

16 What does the research say? There is the need to see the power relationships in the classroom and the ‘inequalities which support the prestigious literacy practices we teach’ (Hyland & Hamp-Lyons 2002). Language teaching needs to deal critically with the norms and expectations of particular discourse communities, to raise issues of social, economic and political concern, yet, nevertheless, to provide students with the tools they need to succeed (Pennycook1997).

17 What does the research say? It is a matter of considerable pride and satisfaction for native speakers of English that their language is an international means of communication. But the point is that it is only international to the extent that it is not their language. (Widdowson 1994: 385) ELT is poised to undergo some dramatic changes as native varieties of English give way to WE as the most coveted passport to world citizenship. (Rajagopalan 2004:111)

18 What does the research say? Such an orientation will help us reconcile ourselves to the reality of English as a heterogeneous language with a plural grammatical system and norms, accommodating the expression of diverse local values and identities. (Canagarajah 2006: 211)

19 What does the research say? A similar conclusion was drawn in a separate study (Hasan & Lushington, 1968): One main aim of teaching English is to enable the pupil to use the language of the speech community of his day. The model presented to him should be those in which the language used is that of contemporary speakers and writers. The model ought to take into account the varieties of language. We may choose to teach the standard English to the exclusion of others, but this does not imply that other varieties are inferior or wrong.

20 How does Chinese English education stack up? ›There are million English learners and users in China, making it the largest English learning and using population in the world. (Bolton, 2003; He & Zhang, 2010; Jiang, 2002) ›There are about 55,000 College English teachers and 10 million College English students in China. (Wu, 2009) ›There is an annual intake of 5 million university enrollments. (Cen, 2006) ›English education in China is a phenomenal success as compared with foreign language education in neighboring countries, in Australia, the US and the UK. Can we disregard this fact in research and teaching practice? Are we giving due credits to a model that is guided by broad principles of Confucianism?

21 A contextualised language and learning model This model needs be: ›- guided by broad principles of Confucianism ›- reflecting an insightful knowledge of EFL teaching in China ›- supported by empirical evidence derived from research on language and learning ›- dynamic and flexible to accommodate the varying needs of learning and teaching ›- systematic by incorporating the core elements of learning and teaching

22 A Confucian perspective 因材施教。 -- 《论语 · 为政》 Teaching needs to be tailored for individual learners.

23 A Confucian perspective Han Yu (768 – 824) 师者,所以传 道、授业、解惑也。 A teacher is one who passes on knowledge, educates on various subjects, and resolves doubts. —— 《师说》

24 A Confucian perspective 不闻不若闻之,闻之不若 见之,见之不若知之,知之不 若行之。 Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand. —— 《荀子 · 儒效篇》 Xun Zi (325 B.C. – 235 B.C.)

25 A Confucian perspective 有教无类。 Teach all comers without discrimination. —— 《论语 · 卫灵公》 读万卷书,行万里路。 Learn knowledge from thousands of books and accumulate experience by traveling thousands of miles. —— (明)董其昌 Dong Qichang (1555 –1636)

26 Language learning model: Confucianism as pedagogy 读万卷书 Context of language/ learning Teaching Learning Received knowledge Experiential knowledge Learner Curriculum design/delivery Theory of language Theory of learning 传道、授业、解惑 因材施教 有教无类 读万卷书 行万里路 不闻不若闻之,闻之不若见之, 见之不若知之,知之不若行之。

27 Theories of learning The proposed model could be supported theories of learning: Social Psychology (Lewin, 1935, 1948; Allport, 1954) Developmental Psychology (Piaget, 1972; Vygotsky, 1978) Cognitive Psychology (Wittrock, 1974; Craik & Lockhart, 1972) Motivation Theory (Skinner, 1968; Bandura, 1965; Slavin, 1990) Humanistic Psychology (Dewey, 1966; Rogers, 1979) Global and Moral Values Education (Reardon, 1988, Kohlberg, 1963) Multiple Intelligences Theory (Gardner, 1983)

28 Theories of language ›Second language acquisition (SLA) ›Sociolinguistics ›Task-based teaching and learning (TBTL) ›Intercultural approach to language teaching (ILT) ›Text-based curriculum ›Other

29 A wrap up To conclude, a language learning model informed by Confucianism as Pedagogy is an integrated approach that ›situates learning in local context; ›focuses on learning & acquisition; ›views the development of language as a way of approximation; ›helps learners develop intercultural competence with self identity; ›legitimates the learning Chinese English as an emerging variety. Of course, there is a need to establish an empirical base to back up the model. This is a taunting task for all Chinese EFL practitioners and researchers, as my talk only serves as some food for thought or as the Chinese saying goes: 抛砖引玉

30 A positive approach While trying to correct deficiencies in an existing model, we need to be aware that what we may consider as weakness is what the West would look to as overwhelming educational strengths such as a deeply ingrained work ethic and disciplined training in the elements of knowledge. “Even as we correct real deficiencies, we need to recognize and nurture the strengths that are so evident to others”. (Brodhead, 2006)

31 Thank you!

32 Bolton, K. (2002). Chinese Englishes: From Canton jargon to global English. World Englishes, 21, 2, Bolton, K. (2003). Chinese Englishes: A sociolinguistic history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Butler, S. (1997). Corpus of English in Southeast Asia: Implications for a regional dictionary. In English is An Asian Language: The Philippine Context. Edited by M.L. Bautista, Manila: The Macquaire Library, pp Canagarajah, A.S. (2006). Negotiating the local in English as a lingua franca. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 26, Cen, J. (2006). China’s education and innovation in a globalization context. Keynote speech delivered at 1 st Australia-China Symposium on Science, Technology and Education, August, 2006, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Hasan, R. & Lushington, S. (1968). The subject-matter of English. Harlow: Longmans. He, D., & Zhang, Q. Y. (2010). Native speaker norms and China English: From the perspective of learners and teachers in China. TESOL Quarterly, 44(4), Jia, D. (1990). Thought pattern and linear sequence. Foreign Language, 5. Jiang, Y. (2002). China English: Issues, studies and features. Asian Englishes, 5, Kirkpatrick, A. & Xu, Z. (2002). Chinese pragmatic norms and ‘China English’. World Englishes, 21, 2, Leung, P.K. (2000). Writing between Chinese and English. World Englishes, 19, 3, Lin, Y. (1935). My country and my people. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock. Ragagopalan, K. (2004). The concept of ‘World English’ and its implication for ELT. ELT Journal, 58, 2, Urszula, C. (2001). War words: Language, history and the disciplining of English. New York: Elsevier. Wei, Y. & Fei, J. (2003). Using English in China. English Today 76, 19, 4, Widdowson, H.G. (1994). The ownership of English. TESOL Quarterly, 28, 3, Wu, Q. (2009). Experiments of College English teaching reform. Retrieved April 21, 2010 from ›Zhang, H. (2008). Strategies on how to help Chinese students walk out of deaf and mute English. China Education Innovation Herald, 23, ›Zhao, Y. (2009). The relationship between deaf and mute English and the foreign language learning. Education Science and Culture Magazine, 1,

33 Analysing Chinese English (Syntactical structure) I am not deep and not well-read. If one is too well- read, then one does not know right is right and wrong is wrong. (Lin 1935) …when two men separated by the ages think the same thoughts and sense the same feelings and each perfectly understands the other.” (Lin 1935) To be born yellow and to be educated white is a privilege… (Wu, 1937 in Bolton, 2002)

34 Analysing Chinese English (Cultural allusions) And what a treasure it is to be able to feel like a Chinese and to think like a Westerner! And what an ideal, to be as tender-hearted as a woman, and at the same time as tough-minded as a man!” (Wu, 1937 in Bolton, 2002)

35 Analysing Chinese English (trans-lingual/cultural) Compare two poems: Poem 1: Astronaut fly wife and parachute kids to passport-land, fly back, astronaut, coming in above love hotels of Kowloon Tong for a Kai Tak splash down. Rent a flat again in Happy Valley With a view of the races, Whatever the cost per square inch To my karaoke soul! (From Astronaut by Parkin 1997: 23-5)

36 Analysing Chinese English (trans-lingual/cultural) Compare two poems: Poem 2: Leaf of passage Not an astronaut bringing home legends of space odysseys. Not at all. Just a lonely father shuttling back with heavy twigs to build new nests. Worries add to one’s age, diseases accumulate. Transit is never as smooth As sages on blades of weed. See those mottled stamps on suspicious passport? Not so easy to roll a house into a backpack; lost forever are the familiar Land and language. Departing, you imagined yourself a snow goose flying south, Crossing the frozen earth in search of a warmer port? What one foresees Are sneers from both soils: how can a leaf move that many woes? (From Leaf of Passage by Leung 1998)

37 Analyzing Chinese Eng lish (trans-lingual/cultural creativity) I started to write the poem in English first, but shifted halfway to Chinese and finished...But the two languages must have tangled deeper in my mind…Only when I really worked on the poem in English did I discover the unconscious echoes to Li Po’ lines ‘Sailing through wails of monkeys from both banks, a light boat has passed thousands of mountains’ in my first line…. (Leung, 2000) “Is this a jade or a wooden canoe? Sailing through wails from both banks,….”

38 Analysing Chinese English (rhetorical strategies) Compare: Yr: As an old man with very rich and unique experience, do you care more about your health, family happiness… or the art you have pursued and loved so much all your life? RC: I’m afraid I am not very much of a family man….I’m afraid it’s still my career, my past…. (From Highlights of Dialogue, eds., Sheng, et al., 2006) "I wanted to do this job and I wanted to be a good father as well, a good parent, and I want to make sure that the family always comes first," he said. "Nothing will change. I'll continue to do everything I can to be a good family member”. (Bracks, 2007, SMH July 28)

39 Analysing Chinese English (Cultural allusions) Feel the fear and do it anyway! Storms make trees take deeper roots! Make money internationally! (Li Yang, in Bolton, 2002) The front gatekeeper, a gray-haired, red armbanded woman surnamed Zhu, yawned and nodded to Chen on that April morning as he tossed a green plastic token into the token box. (From A Loyal Character Dancer by Qiu Xiaolong, 2002)

40 Defining Chinese English As a trans-lingual/cultural emergent, Chinese English, while still susceptible to irresponsible or ill-informed accounts of its being a sub standard variety as opposed to a native English variety, is a variety of standard English. It has identifiable traits in discoursal representation- expression, syntax, rhetorical strategies, as well as socio-cultural associations. An emphasis must also be made in analysis that Chinese English is seemingly familiar with the source and target language, but transcends in unique ways. However, further research is needed to gather empirical evidence for codifying and theorizing as well as developing an English curriculum informed and invested by such understanding.

41 Criteria for determining an variety of English Butler (1997) established a set of criteria for determining an emerging variety of English. These criteria include: (1)an established standard, recognizable pronunciation; (2)a set of words and phrases that is typical of the variety; (3)a speech community that evolved over a period of time in history; (4)a literature written in that variety, and (5)the existence of reference books.


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