The Prospect of Teaching English as an International Language in a Chinese Context: Student-Teachers’ Reactions

Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 22)


As a result of the worldwide expansion of the English language, English is no longer a homogeneous concept but rather, a heterogeneous language with pluralised/pluralising grammars, vocabulary, accents, and pragmatic discourse conventions. The emergence of different world Englishes and the forces of globalisation have prompted scholars to urge language educators to revise their teaching practices and the principles behind these practices based on a paradigm that promotes multidialectal democracy, i.e. English as an International Language (EIL). In China specifically, the emergence of Chinese variety of English or Chinese English has challenged the principles and practices of teaching English that are based on the so-called ‘native-speaker’ model. Not only is this model claimed to be insufficient or irrelevant but also disempowering. Thus, the teaching of English in China seems to have shifted from TEFL to TEIL.

However, the extent to which a particular advocated paradigm can be translated into practice lies in the hands of prospective key protagonists in operationalising this paradigm. The voices of these protagonists are still not audible enough in the current literature. Therefore, this chapter reports on a case study of four Chinese student-teachers from a TEIL course at a university in Suzhou (China). It specifically explores these student-teachers’ views on the importance and practicality of teaching English language diversity (including Chinese English) in a Chinese context. Results from classroom observations, interviews, and students’ writings suggest that the teaching of EIL in a Chinese context seems to have a good prospect of success. The participants are also aware of the challenges they are likely to encounter and/or have encountered in their attempt to teach EIL. In light of this, modest suggestions for English language teacher-education in China are offered.


English as an international language World Englishes ELT Chinese English China 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Training, Research, Assessment and Consultancy DepartmentSEAMEO Regional Language CentreSingaporeSingapore

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