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The Role of College English Textbooks in the Teaching of Culture in China

By Bo Jiang


The teaching of culture is one of the most important parts of English Language Teaching. It is unavoidable and necessary because English and culture are closely related and communication in English requires intercultural competence. The Chinese government sets up requirements for College English teaching in China through regularly adjusted curriculums. In the 1999 and 2004 curriculums, the requirement is for College English teaching to focus on communicative competence and intercultural competence. However, some of the requirements themselves are found to be ambiguous and confused. Chinese teachers and learners all agree that the teaching of culture is very important in English teaching and learning, but it seems that the teachers do not really know how to teach culture, and they normally rely on textbooks for guidance and instructions. This research aims to investigate how culture is taught and what cultures are taught in College English teaching in China. Because College English teaching is greatly influenced by College English textbooks, these books are actually the focus of this research, and they are studied to examine the extent to which they help cultural studies. \ud \ud A content analysis method is applied to determine the varieties of culture taught through textbooks, and a content-based analysis, which is a series of criteria centred on the themes of recency, realism, topics, task design and extra information, is used to investigate how textbooks teach culture. \ud \ud The results of the examination of the textbooks indicate that the books are not targeted at the teaching and learning of culture; neither local culture nor world cultures are given much attention in the books; tasks are not designed to teach culture, stereotypes are generally not dealt with, and ICC does not seem to be a part of English education in China. To conclude, there is a significant mismatch between the requirements of the government and what is carried out in practice, and a mismatch between the needs of English learning and the direction of English teaching in China.\ud \ud A few implications are put forward as a result of this research. First, the government might clarify its requirements about cultural studies. Second, textbooks need to develop. Recent cultural information, a variety of culture, a balanced selection of topics, helpful extra information, and activities that are designed to teach ICC and deal with the stereotypes in the texts would be useful in the books. Finally, teacher training is needed. \u

Publisher: Department of Education (York)
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:

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