Dreams and challenges: rural Chinese postsecondary students' experiences with learning English as a foreign language (EFL)

Li, Cheng (2018) Dreams and challenges: rural Chinese postsecondary students' experiences with learning English as a foreign language (EFL). Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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English as a foreign language (EFL) in China is predominantly regarded as a tool for the country to achieve modernization and for individuals to pursue education and employment. Students from rural China, however, typically present little interest and poor school achievement in EFL learning. While rural students' challenges in EFL learning have long been a problem of economic and social inequality, only little research addresses how rural students understand their challenges in relation to current EFL education in China. The purpose of this study is to investigate how rural students connect their challenges in EFL learning with the structural system of EFL education in China through their perceptions of EFL learning and their narratives of the challenge. Drawing on a poststructural paradigm, this study assumes that the individual rural student's partial and situated knowledge will inform what is constructed as authoritative knowledge in and what is excluded from the context of EFL education in China. A life story research was performed with an attempt to foreground rural students' knowledge and question the dominant standards and practices in China's EFL education. Twelve postsecondary students originally from rural villages participated in life story interviews, providing not only factual details of their experiences and events regarding EFL learning, but also narrations of their experiences and events. A narrative approach was adopted to analyze both the participants' experiences and narrative in their life stories. The findings of this study reveal that rural Chinese students often relate the challenge in EFL learning to the current structural system of EFL education in China. In such a context, the dominance of cosmopolitan structural system in EFL textbook contents, the prevalence of oral communicative class activities, and the dominance of instrumentalist ideology in foreign language policy impose subtle exclusionary forces upon rural students in their EFL learning. The participants' understanding of what is constructed as dominant concepts and practices provides both theoretical and pedagogical efforts are to be made to uncover and reduce the subtle exclusion of EFL education for improving equity in foreign language education.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/13578
Item ID: 13578
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 221-234).
Keywords: rural Chinese students, English as a foreign language, life story, hegemony, cosmopolitan English, communicative teaching approach
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: September 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: English language—Study and teaching (Higher)—Chinese speakers; Education, Rural—China

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