Chinese Primary School English Curriculum Reform

  • Dongbo Zhang
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 3)


This chapter surveys the historical development of primary school English curriculum in the People’s Republic of China through an analysis of some key national English syllabi and curriculum documents, including English curriculum standards enacted by the Ministry of Education in 2001 and 2011. The author reviews the curriculum goals and benchmarks for primary school English literacy education stipulated in these documents at different historical periods, summarizes the major characteristics of the changes or reforms in these goals and benchmarks, and discusses the motivations that drove these reforms. In accordance with current theories of biliteracy acquisition and based on a brief review of current practices of primary school English education, the author then identifies some major challenges that need to be addressed for successful English literacy teaching and learning in primary schools in China. These include children’s limited access to appropriate print resources in English, lack of research on, and hence knowledge of, how young children develop English literacy in a foreign language context concurrently with acquiring literacy skills in their first language, shortage of qualified primary English teachers, and lack of teacher training in English literacy acquisition theory and pedagogy.


Primary School Literacy Skill English Teacher English Learning Curriculum Standard 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Research in Pedagogy and PracticeNational Institute of EducationSingaporeSingapore

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