The country has experienced since 1949, the

The status of the English language in the People’s Republic of China has been full of vicissitudes, reflecting the country’s historical, social, political and economic convulsions that the country has experienced since 1949, the year when the civil war ended the English language has been perceived as “the tongue of military aggressors, barbarians, imperialists and virulent anti-Communists, as well as of trade partners, academics, technical experts, tourists, and popular culture”. The politicization of English teaching and the Grammar-Translation Method, which stressed written language and memorization, were the key features of English language education during this phase, heavily influenced by the Soviet Union (Adamson, 2002, 2004) (p. 231).
During the first phase between 1949 and 1960, the period that emphasized the restoration of the country after the conflict with Japan and the civil war, Russian was the dominant foreign language due to the country’s political and economic ties with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
In the second phase from 1961 to 1966, as a result of the Sino-Soviet split and new national priority given to economic development, Russian came to lose its popularity, and the main foreign language status was taken up by English. English gained importance in promoting international relationships, cultural exchanges, and scientific knowledge. However, the Cultural Revolution, which started in 1967, wiped out English language education in China. The government denounced English as the language of enemies and condemned English learners and teachers as bourgeoisie intellectuals and/or traitors (Adamson ; Morris, 1997)
In spite of China becoming a member of the United Nations in 1971 and the Sino-American dialogues on commercial, cultural, and educational exchanges in 1972, the full re-emergence of English on the curriculum was attained only after the end of the Cultural Revolution and the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 (Lam ; Chow, 2004).
A series of educational reforms and revisions of the English curriculum continued to progress in the 1990s. In 1993 the most sophisticated curriculum to date, opening “a new era in English language curriculum development in China” (Adamson, 2004, p. 192), was promulgated.
Two historic events occurred in 2001, Beijing’s winning of the 2008 Olympic bid and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. These marked a momentous turn in English language education in the People’s Republic of China (Bolton & Tong, 2002). They signaled China’s “active involvement in the process of economic globalization and international cooperation” (Pang, Zhou, ; Fu, 2002, p. 202) and were indicators of the country’s economic aspirations and political ambitions (Jin & Cortazzi, 2004; Shenkar, 2005).
In China English is now learnt not for the prestige of knowing a foreign language or appreciating the cultural heritage of Anglo-American societies, but for patriotic and utilitarian reasons, and for national modernization as well as personal advancement and material gain. (Pang, Zhou, & Fu, 2002, p. 203).
With the national development of the ICT industry and the realization of the significance of information literacy in the 21st century, the Chinese government and the Ministry of Education have taken a strong role in integrating ICT into the education system, based on the notion that technology is an essential tool to enhance the quality of education and research in the information age (Li, 2003).
The belief that a good command of the English language is of vital importance in reaping the benefits of new technologies, and vice versa, the Chinese government strenuously stresses the significance of multiple levels of literacy in the 21st century and actively undertakes technology-enhanced curriculum reform in English language education (Adamson, 2005; Jin & Cortazzi, 2004; Ma & Hu, 2002).
A sum of 3.6 million dollar was invested for the pilot use of English learning software among 200,000 students in 180 universities. The Chinese Ministry of Education also supports distance education and on-line English teaching programs, alongside formal English language teaching within the education system in an effort to expand the population of English language users and increase their English proficiency (Jin & Cortazzi, 2004; Wu, 2001).
Furthermore, as collaboration with foreign publishers and foreign English language teaching professionals in the textbook publication became operative, incorporation of ICT into textbook supplements aimed at facilitating technology-enhanced English lessons has been promoted. The collaboration among the Ministry of Education, People’s Education Press (PEP) and the Oshana (Adamson, 2005).
Thus, as in many developing countries, in China, integrating technology into teaching English is seen as a solution to tide over the difficult situation based on the belief that it would lead the country to keep pace with the world and narrow the gap between the country’s elite and its poor at the domestic level (Wang, 2002).
Summary of Chapter 2
This chapter provided an extensive review of both theoretical literature and empirical research. The review of the latest, most crucial literature generated four major themes of the study: (a) globalization, technological revolution and English as an international language; (b) expanded concepts of literacy and language in the age of information; (c) the use of ICT in education and in language learning and teaching, and (d) history of English language education in China and emerging challenges. The review serves as a basis for the current study.


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