Neoliberal values embedded in a Chinese college English textbook

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Jing He
Adcharawan Buripakdi


Since language is not neutral, English Language Teaching (ELT) and English textbooks reflect sociopolitical, economic, and cultural reality so they cannot be value-free. Values in ELT textbooks can affect students’ thinking and behaviors to a certain degree. As we are now in the era of globalization and neoliberalism which is the dominant political and economic paradigm, this study aims to investigate whether neoliberal values are implanted into a widely-circulated college English textbook in China by conducting a Critical Discourse Analysis. The research questions of this study are “Are there neoliberal values embedded in a Chinese college listening and speaking textbook? If there are, what are the most salient neoliberal values? How are these values represented in the textbook?” The analysis revealed that there are many neoliberal values embedded in the textbook selected. The most salient neoliberal values found in it are entrepreneurship, individualism, self-responsibility for personal development and fulfillment, and flexibility. The embedding of these neoliberal values can be attributed to economic, social, and political factors in China. Consequently, raising college ELT teachers and students’ awareness of and developing their critical thinking abilities with the regard to the values incorporated in the textbooks should be one of the prime tasks of ELT objectives nowadays, especially against a global backdrop of neoliberalism and globalization.


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