A Critical Ethnography of ‘Westerners’ Teaching English in China
Shanghaied in Shanghai
Routledge – 2013 – 288 pages
Tens of thousands of Western ‘teachers’, many of whom would not be considered teachers elsewhere, are employed to teach English in public and private education in China. Little has previously been known, except anecdotally, about their experiences, about the effect they have on education in the context, or on students’ perceptions of ‘the West’ that result from this contact. This book is an ethnographic study of Westerners’ lived experiences teaching English in Shanghai, China. It is based on three years of groundbreaking research into the pre-service training, classroom practices, personal identities and motives, and local socially constructed roles of a group of ‘backpacker teachers’ from the UK, the USA and Canada. It is a study that goes beyond the classroom, addressing broader questions about the sociology, and politics, of transnational education and China’s evolving relationship with the outside world.
'This groundbreaking ethnographic study examines, in a graphic and critical manner, the lived experiences of Westerners who teach English in China. It sheds light on the tensions, contradictions, misunderstandings, and identity construction in cross-cultural encounters with complexity and texture.' -- Hu Guangwei, Associate Professor, National Institute of Education, Singapore
'It's an outstanding work on a number of levels. It's a page-turner, an epic, the War and Peace of ELT in only 250-odd pages. It's mini-series material. I don't think I've ever read an academic work related to ELT as comprehensive in its effect. … It's littered with leads for further research. In the final chapter, I imagined going to China and working at different schools, trying to find Leo so I could see what he was actually like in person! Anyone who questions the relevance of serious academic work and/or ethnography should read it. … It's tempting to go back and start it again immediately now that I know what happens in the end! Like a good book, film, TV series, I feel like I know the characters, and I want to keep following their lives.' -- Kyle Smith, Director of Studies, Browns English Language School, Brisbane
1. Introduction 2. English teaching in China 3. Theorizing transnationals in China 4. Showing the workings 5. Teachers, training, and teaching 6. Understanding oral English 7. The pressure to be ‘fun’ 8. It’s not about English teaching 9. Gendered identities 10. Training outcomes and teacher needs 11. Constructing and maintaining identities 12. Recommendations and reflections