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Chinese teachers teaching in English-speaking countries

Both researchers and practitioners agree that identifying teachers' beliefs about language teaching and learning is crucial to implementing educational standards and innovations. However, there is much less research on teachers' beliefs and practices in the field of TCFL. 'Conflicting values in pedagogy, and difficulty in adaptation to overseas teaching context, are recognized as the dominant issues in Chinese language education in Australia today' (Orton, 2011; cited in Wang, Moloney, & Li, 2013). Orton also confirms the lack of research into effective pedagogy for the teaching of Chinese to English-speaking countries (2011, p. 263). Comparing the curriculum of TCFL teacher education in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Sydney, Wang et al. (2013) found that TCFL teacher education in Mainland China is more linguistics and language knowledge-centred, which, according to them, has to some extent explained the reason why native Chinese language teachers educated in China are professionally strong in teaching sophisticated Chinese linguistics, but are rather weak at initiating pedagogical developments due to a lack of prior knowledge when teaching overseas (p. 126). Criticisms have been directed at native speaker teachers' pedagogy and at their reliance on character teaching at the expense of communicative oral work. Their assumption is, if these native Chinese teachers had knowledge of research-informed teaching methods and understanding of international foreign language teaching and learning standards, they would have no difficulty in adapting to the expectations of Western pedagogy.

Haley and Ferro (2011) examined the perceptions of Arabic and Chinese teachers toward transitioning into US schools and found that the participating teachers rely on their own language learning as well as on their teaching experiences to establish their perceptions of language education and language learners in the United States and 'these opinions do not necessarily change easily' (p. 303). Another study on Chinese language teachers in Australia claims that Chinese education schema and culture values have been shown to influence Chinese language teachers' beliefs and their ability to adapt to overseas teaching environments even though these Chinese migrants have been living for years in Australia (See Moloney & Xu, 2012).

The deeply rooted nature of teachers' beliefs has also been attributed to the cultural educational schema in the literature. Comparative studies tend to highlight the tensions when Chinese and Euro-American education models interact. For instance, Hu's (2002) study claims that the role of teachers' cultural beliefs and values associated with learning and teaching slows down teachers' adaptation to a new environment and pedagogy. However, even though teaching beliefs may be deeply entrenched, professional contact, conferences and seminars have been identified as the most frequently reported cause of change in teachers' beliefs (Richards et al., 2001, p. 9). Through investigating CI teachers' beliefs and practices in teaching Chinese language at a US university, this study sheds light on the challenges and adaption of CI Chinese teachers transitioning into American Chinese classrooms and helps to clarify the contradictory findings in previous research concerning the teachers' beliefs and practices.

 
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