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Understanding Chinese EFL Teachers' Beliefs and Practices in the Textbook-Based Classroom

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Xiaodong Zhang

Textbooks have long been considered a pivotal learning and teaching resource in classrooms. However, there is a paucity of research on how teachers use textbooks in relation to their beliefs, with analytic methods in such studies mainly restrained to content-based thematic analysis. To this end, from the perspectives of Halliday’s (1994) systemic functional linguistics (SFL) and Vygostky’s (1978) socio-cultural theory (SCT), this book explores how a Chinese college English teacher acts upon his beliefs and uses textbooks to mediate his students’ English learning in his classroom.

Drawing on constructs of the SFL-based appraisal and speech function as well as interview excerpts, the study reveals that in the textbook-based classroom the Chinese college English teacher acts upon his beliefs that are constructed by diverse contextual factors. Implications of this study include using SFL and SCT to explore educators’ beliefs and practices and also providing effective teacher education for Chinese college English instructors to reshape their beliefs so that they are better prepared to use textbooks in classrooms.

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4. College English Teaching in China

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← 52 | 53 →

4.   College English Teaching in China

This chapter intends to present the cultural background of Chinese EFL tertiary teaching and learning. Primarily, it presents a brief history on the evolutionary status of China’s EFL teaching and learning while discussing the historical changes in the college English curriculum and testing system. It also focuses on EFL teacher education at the tertiary level in China and elaborates on textbook adoption policies in Chinese college EFL classrooms.

4.1   Necessity of Context of Culture for Research

Indeed, as mentioned in the previous chapter, Halliday and Hason (1985: 49) argued that the context of culture is “an institutional and ideological background that gives value to the text and constrain[s] its interpretation”, while the context of situation, as a more immediate environment for the discourse, directly shapes its linguistic realization (Christie 2002; Halliday 1978, 1994). From an SFL perspective, then, a presentation of both the context of culture for EFL teaching and learning as well as the context of situation of the research site are key elements in an analysis of teachers’ belief discourse and textbook-based classroom discourse (Eggins/Slade 1997; Halliday 1978). To this end, I therefore provide a description of the context of culture in this chapter and save the discussion of the context of situation for the methodology chapter, the one that follows. ← 53 | 54 →

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