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College English Teacher Development in China

A Mixed-method Study

Jiying Han

This study addresses the professional development of college English teachers in mainland China. It is designed to examine the relationship between teachers’ motivation and their attitudinal elements including teacher engagement and commitment, and teaching approaches. This study adopts a mixed-method design that starts with a quantitative phase in which data were collected and analysed to examine the hypothesised predictive power of teachers’ motivation on their engagement, commitment and teaching approaches. In the second phase, qualitative data acquired via semi-structured interviews and documentary analysis were collected to further interpret, explain and elaborate the quantitative results in greater depth. As language teaching has been an often-researched discipline in the teacher motivation literature, this study prompts one to rethink and reflect on the effectiveness of college English curriculum reform and provides implications for current college English teaching and the development of college English teachers.

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Chapter 1: Introduction

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Chapter 1:   Introduction

1.1   The changing context of college English teaching in mainland China

In the past few decades, China’s reform and open door policies have hastened its economic development and extension into the international community. China’s entry into the World Trade Organisation, accelerated process of global integration and increasingly frequent international exchanges have resulted in pressing demands for training ‘composite talents’ who are expected to integrate their communicative skills with knowledge in specific fields. English has always been viewed as a key element in China’s modernisation and development, and college graduates with strong English usage abilities are in high demand. Along with the trend of globalisation and the increasing demand for English learning and usage, China’s government has made great efforts to politically and financially support the development of English language teaching (ELT) at various education levels. However, following the traditional ritual of modelling, mimicking and memorising activity in English classrooms, ELT in China has been compared to ‘a kettle of half-warm water that cannot be brought to the boil’ (Jing, 1999, cited in Gao, 2009), and criticised for ‘teaching-to-the-test’ (Tang & Biggs, 1996) in addition to producing ‘deaf and dumb’ English learners (Cheng & Wang, 2012). Therefore, improving students’ communicative competence in their use of English for educational and professional purposes is a vital concern for current English language teaching in mainland China.

College English teaching has always aroused a great deal attention and has undergone a great...

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