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


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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6. The EFL Teacher’s Beliefs about Textbook Use


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6.   The EFL Teacher’s Beliefs about Textbook Use

From the perspective of the SFL-based appraisal system (Halliday/Matthiessen 2004; Martin/White 2005; Harman/Simmons 2014), this chapter shows how Tong, the EFL teacher selected for this study, revealed his evaluative stances and therefore his beliefs about EFL textbook use. Section one contains an appraisal analysis of discourse segments produced by Tong (Calderhead 1996; Martin/White 2005). The second section of the chapter shows how supplementary interviews were used as an interpretative tool to provide contextual explanations for Tong’s belief discourse (Creswell 2011; Halliday 1978; Martin/White 2005; Wan/Low/ Li 2011). The final section summarizes these findings.

6.1   Tong’s Beliefs as Evaluative Stances

As discussed in Chapter 2 on the SFL-based appraisal system, teachers’ beliefs are related to their evaluative stances and shaped by a context of culture and situation (Halliday 1978; Halliday/Matthiessen 2004; Mansour 2009; Martin/White 2005). In the following sections, I expand on how Tong showed his evaluative stances about EFL textbook use through three appraisal resources: Attitude, Engagement and Graduation. I then use the analysis of the supplementary interviews to show how a specific context of culture and situation informed the construction of Tong’s evaluative stances.

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