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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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8. Discussions and Implications

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8.   Discussions and Implications

Following a revisiting of the two research questions, this chapter aims to discuss the research findings in addition to exploring their pedagogical implications on future studies of teachers’ beliefs and textbook use.

8.1   Research Questions Revisited

This study was motivated by two research gaps. First, many scholars (e.g. Allen 2008; Santos 2008; Sunderland et al. 2000) have pointed out that the value of ELT textbooks depends on how teachers use textbooks and conceptualize their use. However, there has been scarce attention on ELT teachers’ textbook use and their beliefs about textbook use. Second, there is an imperative need for a new approach to textbook studies that shows a detailed analysis for such explorations, as previous studies mainly relied on content analysis of teachers’ beliefs and teachers’ practices (Borg 2006; Li 2013; see also Fives/ Buehl 2012 for a review). Studies deploying content analysis (e.g. Borg 1998; Yang/Gao 2013) either ignore how language as a socio-semiotic resource works in constructing teachers’ beliefs or downplay moment-to-moment teaching practices in their process of showing how teachers act upon those beliefs (Kalaja 2003; Li 2013). In response to these two important research gaps, this current study, from the perspectives of SFL and SCT, investigated textbook use in a Chinese college EFL classroom, with the purpose of contributing to the literature on the relationship between ELT teachers’ beliefs and textbook use, and also contributing to the conceptual framework for understanding and...

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