Critical Factors in English Teachers’ Professional Development in China – A Case Study


  • Kathy O’Sullivan United Business Institutes (Belgium, China, Luxembourg)



Professional development, higher education, China, English


This case study is set in the context of globalisation, framing its analysis of issues relating to professional development of teachers of English language in China against the global background of English language teaching reform. In Asia generally, and particularly in China, where the focus of education in recent years has shifted from access to quality of teaching and learning, an existing plethora of underqualified teaching staff, mainly because of rapid higher education expansion, constitutes a major barrier to regular participation in professional development programs. Barriers identi?ed as impacting on the provision of good quality teaching arose, largely, from the pressures due to the demands of curriculum reform and the often-changing expectations of university leadership, which highlighted tensions between a traditional reliance on the primacy of exam results and a newer demand for holistic development and lifelong learning. Following a review of the literature on aspects of teacher professional development, and a discussion of the current policy context in China, a range of ?ndings will be used to illustrate common stakeholder expectations, as well as teacher beliefs and practice. The analysis of the narratives uncovers issues of identity and power, in the shaping of the participants’ practice and professional trajectories. The analysis provides illustration of how limitation in professional participation can result in limitation of innovative practice. Concerns regarding barriers to further development are also highlighted. The study offers recommendations to promote innovative practice which can support more effective teaching and learning.




How to Cite

O’Sullivan, K. (2018). Critical Factors in English Teachers’ Professional Development in China – A Case Study. European Journal of Language and Literature, 4(2), 6–16.