College English Teaching Reform in China: An Orientation toward ESP

Xingyue Hao, Zhiping Yin


The teaching of English as a foreign language to non-English majors at the tertiary level in mainland China is referred to as College English. This course has a special position in Chinese higher education because it is meant to equip the future professionals with language skills necessary for international communication, and has therefore attracted large investment of time and money from both the government and individuals involved. Ever since the end of Cultural Revolution and the start of Open-and-Reform Policy, College English teaching in mainland China has gone through four decades of reforms. Interestingly, each round of College English teaching reform lasts for about 10 years, for example, the post-cultural revolution reform from 1976 to 1985, the second stage of reform from the mid 1980s to the mid of 1990s, the third stage is the turn of century reform lasting from the mid 1990s to about 2004, and the fourth stage started from 2004 when the Ministry of Education issued College English Course Teaching Requirement. In recently years, signs of another round of reform are arising as many important journals are publishing papers explaining rationale for the reform. This round of reform is content-driven, characterized by English for Specific Purposes (ESP). Based on this context, we intend to make a brief introduction to the present day College English teaching reform in mainland China. We first introduced the background which includes a survey of the history of the College English teaching reform. Then we made a need analysis from the angles of College English Teaching reform, globalization of economy and internationalization of higher education, particularly the needs of the learners and society in the new era. Both the background and need analyzes help to explain why ESP is going to be the focal point of this reform. Finally, some issues over the terms of English teaching or learning are analyzed, and it finds that the controversies or confusions concerning some concepts like General English (GE) and English for General Purposes (EGP), English for Special Purposes (Esp) and English for Specific Purposes (ESP ) and so on are dwelled upon.

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International Journal of English Language Teaching ISSN 2329-7913 (Print) ISSN 2329-7921 (Online)

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