Roles, expectations and pedagogical awareness: Cultural influences in Chinese university classrooms.

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Li, M.
Chinese learners
Expatriate teachers
Role assumptions
Learner expectations
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Peer-reviewed status
Working Papers
This paper, based on a study carried out by the author, reviews the disparities in role assumptions and expectations that underlie the classroom communication between Chinese learners and expatriate teachers in China. The central issue, the paper argues, is the miscommunication of teacher-student role conceptualisations and expectations. Differing role assumptions pre-date teachers' teaching methods and students' conceptions of learning. Expatriate teachers with little knowledge of the Chinese cultural and educational contexts have difficulty in interpreting their roles as teachers and fulfilling the expectations these roles entail, and therefore have difficulty in finding a 'fit' in their teaching. It is argued that pedagogy is context-dependent. Teaching methods that are recognised as successful in the country where they originate cannot achieve similar results when applied to a culturally different classroom setting that sets different social and psychological dimensions around the teacher-student relationship. It is suggested that expatriate teachers need to develop a repertoire of professional teaching communication skills, especially in language, pedagogies and culture, to enable them to (1) understand their roles as teachers in a cross-cultural setting, (2) examine their cultural values, beliefs and role concepts, (3) adapt their teaching to the needs of the students, (4) establish a cultural synergy, and (5) find a pedagogical fit in intercultural classroom communication.
Li, M. (2002). Roles, expectations and pedagogical awareness: Cultural influences in Chinese university classrooms (Working Papers No. 4-02). Lower Hutt, New Zealand: The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.