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Home Journal Index 2021-3

Theories and Practices of Language Education: An Interview with Prof. Zhuanglin Hu

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Liangtao Lai
Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

Zhuanglin Hu
Peking University, China

In this interview, Professor Hu showed his insights in the linguistic basis of language education. Among the various schools of linguistic theories, he lays special emphasis on the influence of communicative grammar, systemic functional linguistics, pragmatics and cognitive linguistics on language education, in particular on foreign language teaching and learning in China. According to him, language education should fall within the scope of applied linguistics, and there should be a combination of the narrow-sense applied linguistics and the machine-oriented applied linguistics for better development of language education research and practice. Educational linguistics is considered as able to integrate language studies that focuses on the way to teach first, second or foreign language and education studies that emphasizes how to use a language in teaching different courses. Professor Hu highlighted the important role of functional linguistics in foreign language education in China, and drew our attention to the positive role of social semiotics in language teaching at all levels of education. He advocated to apply to language education the principle of Halliday’s “appliable linguistics”, according to which we should learn to find out for what purpose, under what condition and with what result a theory is better than other theories in practices in general and in language teaching in particular, while the task of an experienced teacher is to choose an appropriate approach to cope with a particular problem and the teacher himself/herself is expected to be a resource in language teaching. Professor Hu summarized the major stages of foreign language education since the founding of new China, and highlighted the shift of the objective in foreign language education in China from literature to language. He reminded us of the major challenges to foreign language education in China in the new century: including those due to the need of cross-discipline and crossspecialty personnel, the new development of technology, and the increasing importance of multiple intelligence and Internet education in foreign language learning. He also advocated the adoption of new teaching approaches in teaching Chinese as foreign language.

Language education in China, Systemic Functional Linguistics, theory and practice, lessons and challenges