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Chinese EFL teachers’ knowledge of basic language constructs and their self-perceived teaching abilities


The present study examined the knowledge and skills of basic language constructs among elementary school teachers who were teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in China. Six hundred and thirty in-service teachers completed the adapted Reading Teacher Knowledge Survey. Survey results showed that English teachers’ self-perceived ability to teach vocabulary was the highest and self-perceived ability to teach reading to struggling readers was the lowest. Morphological knowledge was positively correlated with teachers’ self-perceived teaching abilities, and it contributed unique variance even after controlling for the effects of ultimate educational attainment and years of teaching. Findings suggest that elementary school EFL teachers in China, on average, were able to display implicit skills related to certain basic language constructs, but less able to demonstrate explicit knowledge of other skills, especially sub-lexical units (e.g., phonemic awareness and morphemes). The high self-perceived ability of teaching vocabulary and high scores on syllable counting reflected the focus on larger units in the English reading curriculum.

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This work was supported by the National Social Science Fund of China (13CYY027), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (13wkpy37), and Guangdong Educational Planning Research Project (2011TJK448) to the first author. We would like to thank all the participating teachers and school districts for their contribution.

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Correspondence to Jing Zhao or Liyan Huang.




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Zhao, J., Joshi, R.M., Dixon, L.Q. et al. Chinese EFL teachers’ knowledge of basic language constructs and their self-perceived teaching abilities. Ann. of Dyslexia 66, 127–146 (2016).

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  • Chinese
  • English as a foreign language
  • In-service teacher education
  • Morphology
  • Phonics
  • Phonology