Native-speakerism in ELT: A case study of English language education in China

Liu, J
(2018) Native-speakerism in ELT: A case study of English language education in China. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Native-speakerism, an established chauvinistic ideology in the realm of English language teaching (ELT), has been encountering academic and institutional challenges in the past few decades. However, it remains underexplored whether – if so, to what extent – English as a foreign language (EFL) education in China is still affected by this ideology. This study adopts Critical Discourse analysis (CDA), particularly its discourse-historical approach (DHA) as a theoretical guideline to explore this issue by investigating the attitudes of three categories of Chinese ELT stakeholders – students, teachers and administrators – toward Native-speakerism in four interrelated thematic dimensions of ELT to do with teachers, English language varieties, cultural orientations and teaching approaches respectively. Data were collected through questionnaire surveys and interviews from 817 non-English-major undergraduate students in different disciplinary areas, 68 College English (CE) teachers and eight CE program directors of six universities in a province located in North China. Data analysis indicates that the three participant groups, as an entirety, granted a prestigious status to native English speaker teachers (NESTs), particularly Anglo-American Caucasians, Inner Circle English, Inner Circle culture and teaching approaches rooted in Inner Circle countries, inter alia, the communicative language teaching (CLT) approach. Meanwhile, most of the participants expected White NESTs for classroom teaching and upheld Inner Circle English as the learning/teaching target. Although expressing the desire to incorporate into ELT Outer and Expanding Circle cultures, especially traditional Chinese culture, and the conventional teacher-centered teaching approach of China, the participants took them merely as a supplement to Inner Circle culture and CLT. Furthermore, they asserted that offering higher salaries and greater respects to NESTs is not discriminatory, as is prioritizing Inner Circle linguaculture over its Outer and Expanding Circle counterparts. It was also felt that promoting CLT entails no prejudice against the traditional education culture of China. The reasons that most of the participants stated for their endorsing the nativeness principle in these four dimensions of ELT resonate with the conventional Native-speakerist ideology that valorizes Inner Circle English and the education culture of the English speaking West. In addition to these shared standpoints, some inter-group differences were located among the participants. All these findings are indicative of a strong pro-nativeness mentality among the three participant groups, elucidating therefore that EFL education in China is still affected severely by Native-speakerism. Also represented in these findings are the lingering effects of the imbalanced historical-present relations between China and Inner Circle countries as well as the concomitant pro-nativeness ELT policies of China. While exposing the ideological terrain of China’s EFL education, this study has implications for relevant future research and for those who are engaged in ELT to take measures to resist Native-speakerism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Additional Information:
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2018 16:07
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 07:13
DOI: 10.17638/03021409