Foreign language education scholars from the West have agreed for a long time on the importance of including culture in foreign language classroom (Byram & Morgan, 1994; Fantini, 1997; Hall, 2002; Hymes, 1997; Kramsch, 1993; Seelye, 1993) and countries in the East have taken up this work, often without locally produced research. This dissertation study hopes to contribute to this gap by exploring the attitudes and practices that Chinese English as a foreign language (EFL) instructors have regarding culture integration, in a time after a top-down nation-wide policy, the College English Teaching Reform (2002), explicitly calls for such integration. Against this policy backdrop and in response to these empirical gaps, the present study examines how four Chinese EFL university instructors teach culture and why they teach it the way that they do. This qualitative multi-case study includes the analysis of classroom observations, stimulated recalls, and individual interviews with the key policy actors (instructors, the Dean of the School, and the primary policy-maker) using constructivist theories (Cannella & Reiff, 1994; Richardson, 1997; Steff & Gale, 1995). Findings show that although linguistic proficiency is still prioritized over culture learning in the instructors’ teaching, a wide range of culture-related topics were included in the university level EFL classrooms. However, culture was usually regarded as facts and mainly introduced through teacher presentations with anecdotal information consisting of stories of the instructors’ personal knowledge of the target culture as outsiders. The myriad of cultural perspectives, which exist behind these facts, were seldom discussed in instruction by the case study participants. This study also indicates that the instructors’ curricular and instructional decisions were greatly informed by their attitudes toward culture teaching, pre-existing culture knowledge, and the pedagogical approaches they used. The Reform was not found to have a direct impact on instructors’ pedagogical decisions. Implications of this study include the need for the professionalization of EFL teaching and elevation of instructors’ cultural knowledge as well as their pedagogical knowledge. For culture integration and Reform enactment to occur in the Chinese EFL context, there needs to be a multi-pronged and systemic approach involving all policy arbiters (Johnson & Johnson, 2014), including policy makers, teacher education programs, EFL program administrators, and instructors in the process of creation, interpretation, and appropriation of language education policies. This study argues for more sense-making of national Chinese policies by local actors such as instructors and program administrators.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2016. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Martha Bigelow. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 217 pages.
Teaching Culture In Chinese University EFL Classrooms: Understanding Instructors' Perspectives And Pedagogical Decisions.
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