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Title: Culture, ethnicity and English language learning : a socio-cultural study of secondary schools in Taiwan
Author: Lin, Wen-Chuan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2750 8031
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2007
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Learning English in Taiwan has become a primary economic concern as industry has recognised the need to compete within global markets in which trade is carried out predominantly in English. The national, longitudinal achievement data in English has consistently demonstrated a substantial gap in English between candidates (age 13) living in urban and rural locales. This thesis explores differences in secondary school students' access to English as a foreign language in four schools in Taiwan. The schools were chosen to represent locales dominated by different ethnic groups. Multiple methods were employed and the design of the research was guided by Rogoff's description of planes of analysis. Questionnaires adapted from Scribner and Cole' (1981) seminal work on literacy were used to assess students' engagement in learning English in everyday contexts. Classroom observations were conducted in eight classrooms, two in each school, and semi-structured interviews were carried out with students, teachers and parents. Key findings reveal that students from various ethnic groups and locales have access to different socio-cultural resources that position them differently with respect to formal school English learning. The study found a greater asymmetry in rural in contrast to urban locales between school and community values such as ethnic cultural legacies. In some schools teachers accessed students' ethnicity and dialect to bridge between school and outside school knowledge. Individual students' access to English followed complex trajectories that often reflected tensions relating to ethnicity, gender and social class background. Learning English was found to be a value-laden practice that has been exacerbated by the heightened political pressure to learn English to ensure Taiwan's place in the global economy. The theoretical and methodological approaches, and findings bring to light some of the socio-political implications to English language teaching for practitioners, policy makers, and academics concerning foreign language learning in countries such as Taiwan facing competition in global economic markets.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available