chapter  10
15 Pages

Chinese–English bilingual education in the PRC: implications for language education for autochthonous ethnic minorities

One of the much discussed consequences of globalization is the intensified spread

of English as a global language (Crystal, 2003; Rubdy, 2009), especially in what

Kachru (1986) refers to as Expanding Circle countries, where English is studied

as a foreign language (Guo & Beckett, 2007; McKay & Bokhorst-Heng, 2008).

Because of the popular belief that English provides access to knowledge, devel-

opment, power and well-being, various top-down and bottom-up initiatives have

been staged at an increasing pace to expand English instruction and improve the

effectiveness of such instruction in the school systems of these countries (Ho &

Wong, 2004; Nunan, 2003; Park & Abelmann, 2004). In this regard, the educa-

tional system of the People’s Republic of China (hereafter PRC) is no exception

(Hu, 2002; Lo Bianco, 2009b). With PRC’s growing economic integration into

and deepening political engagement with the rest of the world, a modernization

discourse on the importance of English for the state and its citizenry has become

strongly entrenched (Hu, 2008), and there have been accelerating societal and

individual demands, real and imagined, of English proficiency in the past three

decades (Hu, 2002). These socio-cultural and economic changes have ushered in

successive policy initiatives directed at English language teaching at different

levels of the Chinese educational system, from the adoption of communicative

language teaching as the officially endorsed pedagogy in the early 1990s to the

expansion of English provision into primary schooling at the turn of the twenty-

first century, and to the more recent promotion of task-based language teaching

(Hu, 2005; Zhang & Hu, 2010).