Cultural Resistance to Imported Pedagogy: The Case of Task-Based Language Teaching in English Class in China


Task-based language teaching (TBLT) is one way of translating some principles of communicative language teaching (CLT) into practice. It offers practical ways of establishing a balance in classroom instruction between developing ‘knowing how’ and ‘knowing what’, the latter of which is caused by the traditional English teaching ‘presentation, practice and production (PPP) model popular in English classrooms in the People’s Republic of China. However, TBLT has failed to make the biggest impact on English language teaching (ELT) as expected in Chinese context as an imported pedagogy. This paper investigates one of the most important potential constraints on the adaptation of TBLT in the English classroom, namely, the Chinese cultural of learning. It argues that TBLT and the Chinese cultural of learning are in conflict in several important aspects mainly including the following relationship: Input-oriented or output-oriented approach to language learning, teacher- centeredness or student-centeredness, language knowledge or language ability and so on. In view of such fundamental differences caused by the Chinese cultural of learning which puts great emphasis on the input of learning for students, this paper contends that it is sometimes counterproductive to adopt the pedagogy which originated and developed in a different sociocultural context. It concludes by arguing for the necessity of adopting a cautious approach to using the imported pedagogy in Chinese context and developing a sensible consciousness facing pedagogical choices in English teaching classrooms.

Zhu-Xiu Tan.