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Title: Conceptions of the role of culture in foreign language education in China
Author: Qian, Lihua
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 3024
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2011
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Interest in foreign language, in particular English, education in China has grown considerably in the past three decades, not only in terms of linguistic aspects, but also, more recently, its cultural dimension. The recent syllabuses for non-English and English majors have placed emphasis, to varying extents, on the development of students’ cultural knowledge and/or intercultural communicative competence. The purpose of the research reported in this dissertation is to provide a panoramic picture and a characterisation of the conceptions of culture and its role in English language teaching and learning in China. The research was designed as two discrete, but related, studies: a survey of academic publications; and a field study. The survey aimed at providing a systematic account of the main themes and emphases of writings about culture teaching and intercultural communication studies. Its aim was to discover the research interests, beliefs about culture and the role of culture in foreign language, mainly English, education, and culture teaching techniques. The field study employed semi-structured interviews and non-participant classroom observations to investigate Chinese university EFL teachers’ conceptions of culture and beliefs about culture teaching, and their instructional practices in the classroom. The findings from the studies indicate that the writers and the teachers shared a similar, fairly circumscribed, range of conceptions about culture and culture teaching. Culture is viewed principally as one’s way of life; the role of teaching culture in language learning as presenting factual information relating to products, practices and perspectives. Culture teaching is regarded as important and necessary in foreign language teaching, and its goal as the development of knowledge about cultures and awareness of other cultures. The main culture teaching techniques used in education are introduction, comparison and culture, and student projects Nonetheless, teachers were found to have little acquaintance with culture theory and to lack pedagogical training in culture teaching. They rely predominantly on their own, personal and largely limited, knowledge about and experience of other cultures and tend to focus on the development of students’ language proficiency without sustained cultural input. Despite the rapidly expanding scholarly literature on these topics, it appears to have very limited influence on actual foreign language teaching in universities. On the basis of these findings, a tentative model for cultural education in FLT in China is proposed, comprising (1) developing teachers’ beliefs about and knowledge of culture and culture learning; (2) strengthening comparative cultural studies and cultural pedagogically-oriented research, especially by teachers themselves; (3) developing expertise in culture-related pedagogical practice; (4) extending opportunities for both teachers and learners to gain immersion experiences in other cultures.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Language and culture ; Languages, Modern