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Primary EFL in China: teachers' perceptions and practices with regard to learner-centredness

By Qiang Wang

Abstract

The central focus of this study is to explore how learner-centredness is perceived and practised by Chinese primary EFL teachers in the recent national curriculum reform in China, which promotes learner-centred ideology in all school subjects beginning from 2001.\ud Following an introduction to the research context, the study begins with a comprehensive literature review for the purpose of finding out where and how notions of learner-centredness originated and developed in the West from the past to the present, from general education to the field of English language teaching, along with doubts, criticisms, and confusions gathered around the ideology. This is followed by a review of studies on learner-centred educational reforms in developing countries. Chinese philosophical thoughts, traditional educational practices, and recent research efforts into learner-centred teaching are also reviewed to highlight the influence of specific cultural contexts for implementing such an ideology. To investigate the Chinese primary EFL teachers' views on and practices in learner-centredness, this study adopted a mixed mode of research methods using both quantitative and qualitative techniques to collect data in order not only to reveal the scale of impact of the curriculum reform on teachers' views and practices but also to provide an in-depth understanding of teachers' classroom behaviours with regard to learner-centredness.\ud The study involved a large scale questionnaire survey of 1000 primary EFL teachers and 18 classroom observations of teachers acknowledged as being good teachers along with various forms of teacher interviews by which teachers' beliefs and behaviours regarding learner-centredness were studied. The main findings from the study are as follows: (1) Chinese primary EFL teachers overwhelmingly welcomed the new ideology for curriculum change while pedagogically they preferred a middle path - the teacher-directed learner-centred approach (TDLC). (2) Both their beliefs and reported practices reflected a mixture of learner-centred and teacher-centred teaching. (3) Classroom practices of 18 teachers representing good practices at the time of the study showed clear Chinese characteristics of teacher-directed learning centred teaching.\ud Based on the data collected from different sources, the cultural appropriateness of learner-centred teaching in the Chinese context is discussed. A reconceptualisation of the concept for the Chinese primary EFL context is drawn from teachers' views, which contributes to a better understanding of Chinese primary EFL teachers' perceptions and practices of learner-centredness in China. The research has important implications for teacher educators in understanding and supporting teachers for curriculum change and for research into learner-centred education in different contexts as well as for research into primary EFL in other developing countries

Topics: LB1501, PE
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2420

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Citations

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