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Classroom Activities in Chinese Secondary EFL Classes: Teachers' Uptake of the Learner-centred Curriculum Reform

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Mingkun Lou
University of South Australia, Australia

China’s 2001 curriculum reform aimed to shift the exam-oriented teacher-dominated instructional model to quality-oriented learner-centred education. Accordingly, China’s National English Curriculum Standards focus on students’ all-round development to prepare students for future learning and development. The standards aim to facilitate the development of students’ English linguistic and communicative competence, learning and thinking ability, and intercultural awareness and understanding. However, the implementation of the curriculum has been challenging for teachers who are used to traditional teaching styles, and who have large classes with students of varying English learning backgrounds and many other constraints. To date, limited evidence is available regarding how teachers engage with the new curriculum to facilitate learning in the classroom. To illustrate how the curriculum reform has been taken up in terms of teacher practices, this paper reports on classroom activities used in the teaching of vocabulary, grammar and speaking by seven teachers in two secondary schools, drawing on the observation data generated for a larger project investigating teachers’ practices and beliefs. While most teachers mainly used activities in line with traditional practices, some teachers used a range of activities in ways designed to facilitate students’ active learning and practice of English, as well as learning strategies and higher order thinking development. The findings are informative for second or foreign language teachers, teacher educators and policymakers in China and countries of similar contexts.

Curriculum reform, learner-centredness, English as a foreign language, teacher practice, classroom activities