Chinese teachers' perceptions of the implementation and effectiveness of communicative language teaching

Yuan, Li (2004) Chinese teachers' perceptions of the implementation and effectiveness of communicative language teaching. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This study profiled the understandings and perceptions of implementation and effectiveness of the communicative language teaching (CLT) approach by nine university teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) in China" Four research questions were proposed: how do the nine university teachers define and understand CLT? What strategies, activities and material have they used in their teaching practice to reflect their understandings of CLT? If they have practiced CLT, what are the factors that influence their choice of using it? If they have rarely or never used it, what are the constraints that hinder their employment of CLT? -- The primary data collection method used in this study was in-depth interviewing which was conducted face to face, by phone and on the Internet The nine EFL university teachers were selected from six different universities or institutions in China, which are located in regions from the northeast to the very south – Hong Kong" They were interviewed through a number of questions proposed in the Interview Guide" Follow-up interviews were taken at the data analysis stage to clarify potential misunderstandings and to verify the participants' viewpoints" -- The interpretations of the findings revealed that all the nine EFL teachers are aware of certain aspects of communicative language teaching pedagogy" Some of their understandings and interpretations exactly correlate with those presented in the literature" However, the findings suggested that most teachers had incomplete and inaccurate interpretations of communicative competence and CLT" They narrowed down the meaning of "communicative competence" by overlooking its social and cultural aspects. Many of them perceived an equivalence of "communicative skills" with "listening and speaking abilities" or "getting ideas across". They overlooked "appropriateness of language use" (Hymes, 1972a), i.e., the ability to use the target language appropriately in socially and culturally determined situations. The teachers' lack of knowledge of and emphasis on social and cultural aspects of CLT was also reflected from their discussions on communicatively oriented language activities. They listed role-play, discussions, music, drama, story-telling and use of computer and Internet as communicative activities. These activities are, in a restricted sense, linguistically rather than communicatively-oriented, because certain linguistic patterns or drills were usually required in their communicative activities, which resulted in no truly genuine communication involving the social and cultural backgrounds of the target language and the students' real communicative needs. The teachers neglected some important aspects of CLT, like meaningful tasks, purposeful interaction, intellectual stimulation, focus on the whole learner, etc. -- A conclusion was drawn that there is a great need for communicatively oriented teacher training courses and professional development in China. On the one hand, the teachers had misinterpretations and inaccurate understandings of CLT; on the other hand, CLT seems to be more highly regarded in China than it was a few years ago and many teachers are willing to make a change from a teacher-centered instructional approach to more student-centered pedagogy, but they feel powerless to do so due to their inadequate knowledge of communicative teaching. Another conclusion was that an adapted CLT approach might be beneficial to Chinese English learners. Most teachers held the opinion that a pure communicative approach is not applicable to China's present EFL education background and situations, due to a list of constraints that arise from cultural conflicts and different pedagogical theories and practices when CLT is implemented in China, but a combination of CLT with a traditional teaching method or an adaptation of this approach to China's specific education contexts may be beneficial to Chinese learners' development of communicative competence. -- Recommendations for educational practice were made concerning how to organize teacher training courses, CLT -directed teacher training programs in particular. Another educational practice for Chinese educators could be their attempt to try the communicative approach in English language teaching at the primary school level. Recommendations for educational research and development were made concerning conducting research on how to adapt CLT to specific education situations in China and, if CLT is to be combined with another method, what methods can be combined with CLT and how they can be effectively combined so that the resulting hybrid is still focused on developing students' communicative competence. To establish a new instructional method, researchers also need to develop a theoretical basis for it. Therefore, one or more language researchers teams need to be set up to develop English teaching theories more suitable for China's EFL contexts. Research could also be conducted exploring how to develop a model of communication-centered teaching pedagogy and curriculum design that Chinese EFL teachers could follow.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/10010
Item ID: 10010
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 111-116.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 2004
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Communicative competence--China; English language--Study and teaching (Higher)--Chinese speakers; English language--Study and teaching (Higher)--China; Second language acquisition.

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