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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Translations and Paradoxes of ‘Western’ Pedagogy: Perspectives of English Language Teachers in a Chinese College

  • Author(s): Wu, Xi
  • Tarc, Paul
  • et al.

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This paper engages the perspectives of teachers working in an English language department of a vocational college in China. It takes a transdisciplinary approach, applying constructs from the fields of comparative education, postcolonial theories in education, and critical applied linguistics to a case study of English language teaching; while the study assumes somewhat one-way flows of ‘best practices’ from ‘West’ to ‘East,’ it maintains a postcolonial skepticism of the East-West binary and of essentialist notions of culture and progressive education. Specifically, it situates the shifting conditions and practices of so-called Western pedagogies in China under heightened transnationalism and illuminates how these pedagogies are interpreted and translated by six English language instructors at a third tier college. It finds that the pressure to adopt Western, progressive approaches is both top-down and bottom up, that Chinese teachers have fairly consistent understandings of progressive modes, that they adopt Western approaches somewhat sporadically, and that, in practice, Western pedagogy presents a set of paradoxes for teachers and learners.


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