Confucius, constructivism and the impact of continuing professional development on teachers of English in China
Li, D. (2011) Confucius, constructivism and the impact of continuing professional development on teachers of English in China. ELT Research Papers 11–03. Report. British Council ISBN 9780863556739
Official URL: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/publications/con...
In this article we explore issues around the sustainability and appropriateness of professional development for secondary teachers of English in China offered by overseas providers from the perspective of teachers who completed courses at the University of Reading between 2003 and 2010. We start by offering an overview of English teaching in China. We then describe the collection and analysis of interviews and focus groups discussions involving former participants, their teaching colleagues and senior management, as well as classroom observation. Evidence is presented for changes in teachers’ philosophies of education directly attributable to participation in the courses; for improved teacher competencies (linguistic, cultural and pedagogical) in the classroom; and for the ways in which returnees are undertaking new roles and responsibilities which exploit their new understandings. Finally, we discuss the implications of these findings for both providers and sponsors of CPD for English language teachers. We conclude that the recognition of English as an essential element in the modernisation of China, together with the growing awareness of the weaknesses of traditional approaches to the teaching of the language, has opened up new spaces for dialogue concerning pedagogy and professional practice. It is clearly important, however, that new approaches to the teaching of English are presented in a way which allows teachers to decide which elements should be incorporated into their teaching and how.
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