Negotiating Global Views: High School English as a Foreign Language Curriculum and Global Citizenship in Taiwan
English as a Foreign Language (EFL) is highly promoted in Taiwan because the government considers English proficiency a valuable skill for Taiwanese workers to compete in the global market. Yet, despite widespread interest in the subject, English teachers in Taiwanese schools have encountered hindrances, including limitations of EFL course content and methodology in the classroom pedagogy. EFL pedagogy has often focused on testing, rote-learning, and exam preparation while the curriculum lacked discussion of diverse global issues.
In light of these challenges, in the recent educational reforms aiming to diversify the educational system, the high school curriculum guidelines in Taiwan initiated changes in reinterpreting the role of the EFL curriculum. Shifting from the past focus on grammar and vocabulary, the current EFL curriculum now focuses to some extent on diverse global topics such as sustainable development and social justice issues around the world.
This study analyzed high school level EFL textbooks and conducted interviews with EFL teachers. Data analysis revealed that EFL textbooks now include issues such as equity, anti-discrimination, environmental protection, and diversity, comprising themes associated with global citizenship education. Interview data demonstrated that teachers’ critical reading of these textbooks influenced their pedagogical approach to these global topics. Teachers also critiqued the lack of in-depth discussion in textbooks and the need to incorporate supplementary material and activities.
A further critical analysis of the data informed by the theory of Paulo Freire underlines challenges confronting Taiwanese teachers when preparing students to engage with topics of global citizenship. The analysis also illuminates the teachers’ emerging critical awareness. Teachers negotiate with these challenges in attempting to bring textbook topics to life for the students. Further implications of this study include EFL education policy recommendations and a re-envisioning of how Taiwanese high schools might situate English language learning in the globalized world.