Under China’s market economy, English language learning has been adopted as a strategy to promote the nation’s economic competitiveness in a global economy. This development reflects a discourse of linguistic instrumentalism. Based upon individual interviews of 24 English teachers in Zhejiang Province, China, the study reveals that teachers question the assumptions of linguistic instrumentalism, the gatekeeper role of English, the impact of the increasing dominance of English on Chinese language, and their students’ internalization of the belief in the superiority of Anglo culture. In addition, the study suggests that as a result of globalization, the delivery of English education in China has experienced unprecedented marketization and privatization. Despite increases in their salaries, teachers still live in poor conditions. Under the fee-paying principle, parents expect teachers to provide the best service to their children, and as such the relations between teachers and students have become like those between businesses and clients. It seems evident that teaching has been devalued and commodified in the age of market economy.

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Introduction: English Education in Today’s Market Economy Society

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Wnezhou Statistics Bureau. (2011). Wenzhou 2010 economic and social development report. Retrieved on December 10, 2011 from http://www.wzstats.gov.cn/infoshow.asp?id=9303