The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Beliefs of Rural Primary Teachers About the Communicative English Teaching Transformation in North-China

Yao Li, The University of Queensland (Australia)


Traditional drill-based English lessons are often viewed by Chinese students as a dreary learning process. Recently, there has been a growing awareness of the need to make the English curriculum more engaging and the learning activities more interactive. Some more communicative and task-based alternatives to traditional Chinese pedagogy could be the antidote (Carless, 2003). However, it remains underexplored to what extent this is being developed at the grassroots level. A large proportion of primary students in China live outside major metropolitan areas, but rural foreign language development has yet to receive much attention because of urban-oriented education policies (Rao & Ye, 2016). This gap makes it even more imperative to investigate the condition of alternative pedagogies implementation in a rural context (Xue & Li, 2023). Teachers’ beliefs can reflect their attitudes towards a teaching method (Farrell & Kun, 2007), so knowing how teachers theoretically and practically perceive innovative approaches could be useful. Therefore, this study aims to investigate in-service teachers’ beliefs about novel teaching with communicative tasks in one North-China rural area. Two principal instruments were used - an online Likert-scale questionnaire (43 local in-service teachers as participants) analysed by Excel and SPSS and semi-structured interviews (6 interviewees from the questionnaire survey) with thematic analysis (Guest et al., 2012). The results show that communicative teaching has started unfolding both in classrooms and at all echelons of the education system in the target area, and those practitioners all present positive attitudes. Still, they have not formulated a specific perception of approaches, which means that teachers need more training opportunities to learn theories and practice. Exam-oriented assessment is also a factor impeding innovation. The current research helps to explore the state of local pedagogy reform and teachers’ voices, which indicates some possible directions for foreign language education development. Eclecticism that advocates combining both traditional and novel means might be a feasible option.


conflicts in policy reform, communicative approaches, teachers’ beliefs, EFL pedagogy, rural China


[1] Carless, D. R. (2003). Factors in the implementation of task-based teaching in primary schools. System (Linköping), 31(4), 485-500. 

[2] Farrell, T. S. C., & Kun, S. T. K. (2007). Language Policy, Language Teachers’ Beliefs, and Classroom Practices. Applied Linguistics, 29(3), 381-403.

[3] Guest, G., MacQueen, K., & Namey, E. (2012). Applied Thematic Analysis.

[4] Rao, J., & Ye, J. (2016). From a virtuous cycle of rural-urban education to urban-oriented rural basic education in China: An explanation of the failure of China’s Rural School Mapping Adjustment policy. Journal of Rural Studies, 47, 601-611. 

[5] Xue, E., & Li, J. (2023). The Rural School Layout Adjustment in China. In E. Xue & J. Li (Eds.), Rural Education Reform in China: A Policy Mapping Perspective (pp. 1-18). Springer Nature Singapore. 

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