China’s English

A History of English in Chinese Education


Bob Adamson

ISBN : 978-962-209-663-9

Language, Linguistics, Reference Asian Englishes Today

April 2004

256 pages, 6″ x 9″, 1 b&w map

  • HK$295.00
No longer available

This book traces the history of English education in the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to the present day. It uses the junior secondary school curriculum as the means to examine how English curriculum developers and textbook writers have confronted the shifting ambiguities and dilemmas over five distinct historical periods. The study of the processes of curriculum development and the products such as syllabi and textbooks offers insights into the construction of an ‘official’ English, as well as what was considered as acceptable content in English.

This book addresses fundamental and significant questions concerning the English promoted in China, namely its characteristics; its changes over time and explanations for such changes; and the kind of content that has been viewed as appropriate for textbooks. To investigate these issues, the analysis draws on qualitative and quantitative data, such as interviews with principal stakeholders and analysis of the syllabus and recommended textbooks. Specifically, it looks at the choice and organization of linguistic components, and the orientation and messages of the curriculum.

Bob Adamson is the International Director of the TESOL Unit, School of Cultural and Language Studies in Education, Queensland University of Technology.

“Language education in China during the second half of the twentieth century might arguably be called the world’s largest language engineering project. In this comprehensive study, Dr Adamson examines a part of that project by charting the twists and turns of English language education from the pre-revolutionary period to the present. He successfully illustrates how tensions in China’s massive educational system are negotiated from center to periphery, how textbook writers adapt to the socio-political mandates of their time to construct formal school curricula. Adamson also raises significant questions regarding the contradictions inherent in Chinese globalization.” —Heidi Ross, Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, School of Education, Indiana University at Bloomington

“Bob Adamson has provided in this book one of the first detailed studies published in English of the history of a school subject in the PRC. The study provides fascinating insights into the changing nature of the English curriculum, the shifting socio-political context of the PRC and their complex inter-relationships.” —Paul Morris, President, The Hong Kong Institute of Education

“The learning of English is a crucial aspect of China’s opening up to the world and increasingly prominent global role. This welcome volume provides an in-depth historical perspective on this important subject, including the recent periods of modernization (1978–1993) and globalization (1993 to the present). It should be compelling reading for all those involved with contemporary China across a wide spectrum of areas.” —Ruth Hayhoe, University of Toronto; President Emerita, The Hong Kong Institute of Education