A Tale of the Two Special Administrative Regions (Sars) of China

An Overview of English Language Teaching Developments in Hong Kong and Macao 1

Authored by: Joanna Lee , Beatrice Lok

The Routledge International Handbook of English, Language and Literacy Teaching

Print publication date:  February  2010
Online publication date:  February  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415469036
eBook ISBN: 9780203863091
Adobe ISBN: 9781135183141


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The rapid transformation of the economic infrastructure in China since the 1980s, coupled with its more active participation in the international arena, has given rise to a shift in language learning orientation in the country. The trend of English learning out of the pragmatic needs for upward and outward mobility of the Chinese population is accompanied by the rise in importance of English language teaching (ELT). In earlier literature, English language teaching in China was assumed to be dichotomous and grammarfocused (Breen, 2006). However, ELT developments vary according to the specific cultural and historical contexts of different regions within the country. English was officially recognized as the major foreign language in secondary schools in China in 1982 (Lam, 2005), and due to the diversity in historical, economic and cultural developments in different regions of the country, a number of research studies have revealed regional disparities with respect to ELT in China (Hu, 2003; Hu, 2005). As a country with a population of approximately 1.3 billion people and 56 officially recognized indigenous nationalities speaking more than 80 languages (Dai et al., 2000; Zhou, 2001), the diversity and complexity of the linguistic situations, language policies and pedagogical practices of English education in China can easily be oversimplified (Feng, 2007).

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