A RESEARCH STUDY ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF LANGAUGE TEXTBOOKS AS A MEDIUM FOR THE TRANSMISSION OF CULTURAL VALUES. THE CASE OF ENGLISH TEXTBOOKS IN CHINESE PRIMARY EDUCATION
University of Edinburgh (UNITED KINGDOM)
Language, as a part of a culture’s symbol system, provides a tool with which individuals can reflect, express and pass on culture. In this process, language acts as the tool while culture is used as a resource. Language and culture are interwoven and inseparable. Communication will not be successfully completed without both being presented. In other words, a language is used and understood in a cultural context. In addition, by carrying various culture learning, languages open a door for people to learn the culture outside their own groups.
In 2001, People’s Republic of China (PRC) drafted a new curriculum for English language subject during the nine-year compulsory education period from primary to secondary school. After the launch of this curriculum, a series of textbooks were produced by different agencies. To develop pupils’ cultural awareness in English language teaching, a number of foreign cultural elements were added to the teaching materials. On the other hand, there is always a debate about the balance between local culture and target culture.
This research aims to explore how cultural values are transmitted through English textbooks and how is textbook design affected by curriculum policy within the context of Chinese primary education.
At the time of writing, the findings are as follows:
(1) In PRC, confusion philosophy on education serves as the principle which guides both curriculum design and textbook development. It emphasizes the importance of education on the moral development of the individual, so that the state can be governed by moral virtues. However, in practice, there is a lack of content standard in terms of the cultural related or ideological related input in textbooks development; the interpretation of cultural values may vary depends on the background and intention of editors. Cultural values such as respect, collectivism and patriotism were consciously added in English textbook. At the same time, traditional gender roles, diligence and obedience were also presented in textbooks by the interpretation of text through illustration.
(2) The change of English subject curriculum has significantly affected textbook development. The 2001 English subject curriculum acts as a guideline to textbook design. Most curriculum designer of the 2001 English subject curriculum either participated in textbook development as chief editors or engaged in textbook censorship. However, there is a gap between textbook editors' design and the product. This may be led by the lack of content standard in terms of textbook design and textbook censorship.
(3) A textbook is always used as a guide book which in many cases is the only interpretation of curriculum in classroom. In practice, the implementation of English subject curriculum in classroom teaching was mostly guided by various publishers through teacher training as a part of the 'after service' in textbook market. However, the interpretation of curriculum policy by various editors, which are presented through textbooks and publishers organised teacher training workshops, may be different.