Skip to main content Accessibility help

Review of English as a medium of instruction in Chinese universities today: current trends and future directions: New language policies to promote multilingualism and language support for EMI will be needed in Chinese tertiary contexts

  • Fan (Gabriel) Fang


The use of the English language in China, and especially in Chinese education has been increasing for several decades, despite various attitudes towards its use (Hu, 2009; Niu & Wolff, 2003; Wang, 2015). In the traditional perspective of world Englishes (Kachru, 1992), China lies in the expanding circle, where English is regarded as a foreign language. However, since China's implementation of the opening-up policy, the teaching of the English language has gained momentum by becoming a key subject in China's education system. Currently, policies in China make English a subject of study from grade three at primary school and as one of the three compulsory subjects in the national university entrance exam (Gaokao), and a compulsory course for university students of all majors (Hu, 2003; Li, 2016).


Corresponding author


Hide All
Adamson, B. 2004. China's English: A History of English in Chinese Education. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
Baker, W. 2015. Culture and Identity through English as a Lingua Franca: Rethinking Concepts and Goals in Intercultural Communication. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Bolton, K. & Botha, W. 2015. ‘English in China's universities: Past and present.’ World Englishes, 34(2), 190210.
Botha, W. 2014. ‘English in China's universities today.’ English Today, 30(1), 310.
Botha, W. 2016. ‘English and international students in China today.’ English Today, 32(1), 4147.
Canagarajah, S. 1999. Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fang, F. 2017. ‘World Englishes or English as a lingua franca: Where does English in China Stand.’ English Today, 33(1), 1924.
Fang, F. & Xie, X. forthcoming. ‘Linguistic diversity on a Chinese university campus: Myths of language policy and means of practice.’ In Jenkins, J., & Mauranen, A. (eds.), Linguistic Diversity on the International Campus: Insider accounts of the use of English and other languages in ten universities within Asia, Australasia and Europe. Abingdon, New York: Routledge.
Graddol, D. 2006. English Next. London: British Council.
Guo, Y. & Beckett, G. H. 2007. ‘The hegemony of English as a global language: Reclaiming local knowledge and culture in China.’ Convergence, XL(1–2), 117–31.
Hu, G. 2003. ‘English language teaching in China: Regional differences and contributing factors.’ Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 24(4), 290318.
Hu, G. 2009. ‘The craze for English-medium education in China: Driving forces and looming consequences.’ English Today, 25(4), 4754.
Hu, G. & Alsagoff, L. 2010. ‘A public policy perspective on English medium instruction in China.’ Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 31(4), 365–82.
Hu, G. & McKay, S. L. 2012. ‘English language education in East Asia: Some recent developments.’ Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 33(4), 345–62.
Hu, G. & Lei, J. 2014. ‘English-medium instruction in Chinese higher education: A case study.’ Higher Education, 67(5), 551–67.
Hu, G., Li, L. & Lei, J. 2014. ‘English-medium instruction at a Chinese University: Rhetoric and reality.’ Language Policy, 13, 2140.
Jenkins, J. 2014. English as a Lingua Franca in the International University: The Politics of Academic English Language Policy. Abingdon, New York: Routledge.
Jenkins, J. 2015. ‘Repositioning English and multilingualism in English as a Lingua Franca.’ Englishes in Practice, 2(3), 4985.
Kachru, B. B. (ed.). 1992. The Other Tongue: English Across Cultures. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
Kirkpatrick, A. 2014. ‘The language(s) of HE: EMI and/or ELF and/or multilingualism?The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(1), 415.
Kumaravadivelu, B. 2016. ‘The decolonial option in English teaching: Can the subaltern act?TESOL Quarterly, 50(1), 6685.
Lei, J. & Hu, G. 2014. ‘Is English-medium instruction effective in improving Chinese undergraduate students’ English competence?International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 52(2), 99126.
Li, W. 2016. ‘New Chinglish and the post-multilingualism challenge: Translanguaging ELF in China.’ Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, 5(1), 125.
Liu, J. & Fang, F. 2017. ‘Perceptions, awareness and perceived effects of home culture on intercultural communication: Perspectives of university students in China.’ System, 67, 2537.
Niu, Q. & Wolff, M. 2003. ‘China and Chinese, or Chingland and Chinglish?English Today, 19(2), 911.
Phillipson, R. 1992. Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Seidlhofer, B. 2011. Understanding English as a Lingua Franca. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Shohamy, E. 2013. ‘A critical perspective on the use of English as a medium of instruction at universities.’ In Doiz, A., Lasagabaster, D. & Sierra, J. M. (eds), English-Medium Instruction at Universities: Global Challenges. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, pp. 196210.
Tollefson, J. W. & Tsui, A. B. M. 2004. Medium of Instruction Policies: Which Agenda? Whose Agenda? Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Wang, W. 2015. ‘Teaching English as an international language in China: Investigating university teachers' and students' attitudes towards China English.’ System, 53, 6072.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Review of English as a medium of instruction in Chinese universities today: current trends and future directions: New language policies to promote multilingualism and language support for EMI will be needed in Chinese tertiary contexts

  • Fan (Gabriel) Fang


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.