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Language socialization and ideological change in EFL textbooks in China : grammar, rhetoric, and genres Zhou, Ting Ting


Although previous research has revealed that explicit and implicit ideologies are embedded in language textbooks, few have looked at how these ideologies change over time in English language textbooks, particularly in the context of China—a country that has undergone remarkable sociopolitical transitions. This study examines three series of EFL textbooks published in China in 1978, 1995 and 2003 to uncover (1) how the incorporation or transmission of ideologies in the textbooks changed and how have those same changes reflected changes in China’s political, social and cultural contexts during the past three decades; and (2) what and how the image of China, the world, English learners, and the (grammatical and other) functions of English represented at different points in time in official English textbooks used in secondary schools also changed. Based on perspectives from language socialization and critical discourse analysis of changes specifically in the use of grammar, rhetoric and genre in the textbooks, the findings show a tendency of the textbooks to move from collectivist ideologies serving mainly the interests of the country in the 1970s to individualist ideologies that concern the interests of the learners in the 2000s. The image of China transitioned from being “strong” to “friendly” to “international” while its relationship with the world changed from that of China and (or versus) the world to China in the world. In addition, the learners for whom textbooks were designed were being socialized into the identity of Chinese citizens (socialist patriots) in the 1970s but global citizens in the 2000s. The functions of English, in turn, shifted during this time from facilitating communication for scientific, business and travelling purposes, to enhancing cross-cultural understanding in the 21st century. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications of research on textbooks for English language education more broadly.

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