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The impact of ELT on ideology in post-Mao China


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Zhang, Shaoquan 2002 , 'The impact of ELT on ideology in post-Mao China', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis takes a political approach to English Language Teaching (ELT) in
post-Mao China. It was prompted by two parallel developments in the past twenty
years or so: the expansion of ELT and changes in ideology. The thesis looks into the
hitherto scarcely explored political aspects of ELT and finds that ELT has significant
impact on both the official ideology and the people's belief system. The study fills in
a gap in the research of contemporary Chinese politics by revealing the political
consequences and implications of ELT. Findings of the study on the one hand
de-mythologize the political innocuousness of ELT, and on the other hand throw light
on the more general questions regarding the causes and process of ideological change
in post-Mao China.
The thesis draws on a number of concepts and analytical tools. The most important
one is the model of pure ideology versus practical ideology developed by Franz
Schurmann in the 1960s. With some modifications, the model views the ideology of
the Chinese Communist Party as made up of possibly conflicting elements, which are
located at different levels of abstraction. It also sees ideological change in terms of the
shifting of some elements of the ideology from the realm of pure ideology into that of
practical ideology or vice versa. Schurmann's model is used here to define both
"ideology" and "ideological change", and it serves as theoretical framework for the
thesis. Another important concept is the three mechanisms of positivism,
technicalization and marketization as dominant features in ELT. (A. Pennycook 1994)
In the Chinese context, these mechanisms serve to create an effective channel for the
influx of Western ideologies into China, and this influx in turn may pose serious
challenge to the official Chinese ideology. Finally there is the concept of textbooks as
ideological discourse with ideological functions. (Elena Lisovskaya and Vycheslav
Karpov1999) This concept is used for discussing how English-language textbooks
serve as impetus of ideological change.
The scope of the research covers three areas of ELT in post-Mao China:
English-language textbooks, English literature, and ELT impact at social level. In each
and all these three areas the thesis finds that ELT has significant impact on ideological
change. In the English-language textbooks, with the removal of the more orthodox
communist ideological symbols and the insertion of symbols associated with
Modernization and Western ideologies, the general trend is one of de-radicalization in
ideology. In literature, challenged by the introduction of Western Modernist writers,
the previously dominant Marxist discourse has become practically irrelevant in terms
of policy making and policy outcome. At the social level, the thesis looks into the
cases of the Voice of America and George Orwell, and finds that on the one hand ELT
functions in breaking Chinese political/ideological taboos, forcing the authorities to
adopt a double standard towards heterodox ideas. On the other hand ELT has led to a
"lily-pond effect" in terms of growing influx of dissenting Western ideologies.
Finally, drawing on findings of this study and taking into account the current pace of
development of ELT, the thesis predicts an even greater ELT impact on ideology in
the future.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Zhang, Shaoquan
Keywords: English language, English language, Language and languages
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2002 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2003. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 205-214)

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