Language Policy

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 359–376

China’s foreign language policy on primary English education: What’s behind it?

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10993-007-9052-9

Cite this article as:
Hu, Y. Lang Policy (2007) 6: 359. doi:10.1007/s10993-007-9052-9


This paper examines the formulation of China’s foreign language policy on primary English education issued in 2001, specifically exploring factors contributing to the formulation of the policy and problems in its formulation. Drawing upon official documents, newspaper archives, publications, and an interview with an education official, it identifies five contributing factors and six problems in relation to policy formulation. The paper argues that the policy, jointly shaped by social, economic, educational, linguistic, and political forces, was the outcome of top-down, assumption-based, and hasty policymaking. The Chinese case exemplifies the impact of the global spread of English on foreign language policy in non-English speaking countries.


ChinaContributing factorsForeign language policyPrimary English educationProblems in policy formulation



English language teaching

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA