Questioning oral English as a curriculum goal

Hui Du

Abstract


In English language classrooms across the globe, the goals and methods of Communicative Language Teaching are firm policy priorities. Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) prioritises the language used by native speakers and makes oral language competence a primary goal. This paper reports on a study of English language teaching at three national universities in China where recent policy reforms have taken up CLT and prioritised listening and speaking over reading. This study investigates the attitudes of teachers and students towards the policy and their views on English language teaching. While generally supportive of the goal of improving oral language competence, concerns are raised about the policy in terms of the context in which the learning takes place and the kind of English young professionals need for their future work, concerns that are supported in the literature. The article argues that, in countries like China where English functions as a foreign language, written English needs to remain a priority for English education of future professionals who must participate in a global English context for the exchange of ideas about their work.

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