The Spread of English in China: Evidence from big-data surveys


4:00 PM - 5:00 PM


  • Time: 16:00-17:00
  • Date: Wednesday, 25 May
  • Venue: Zhumu, please contact for Zhumu details


According to García (2010), the three dimensions of variability in human behaviour towards a certain language, viz. use, proficiency, and attitudes, continue to constitute the core of the study of language spread into the 21st century. This presentation reports upon Chinese people’s use of and self-rated proficiency in English, as well as their attitudes towards using a foreign language (e.g. English) as a medium of instruction in schools. The data sources comprise (1) the Survey of Language Situation in China, which involved over 475,000 respondents selected in a randomized manner from different parts of the Chinese mainland (Wei & Su, 2012), and (2) other big-data surveys (cf. Wei & Su, 2015; Wei, Kong, & Liu, forthcoming).

References: García, O. (2010) Language spread and its study in the 21st century. In R. Kaplan (ed.). Oxford Handbook of Applied Linguistics (2nd ed.). Rev. 2nd edition (pp. 398-411). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wei, R. & Su, J. (2012) The statistics of English in China: An analysis of the best available data from government sources. English Today, 28(3): 10-14. Wei, R. & Su, J. (2015) Surveying the English language across China, World Englishes, 34(2): 175-189. Wei, R., Kong, M. & Liu, Z. (forthcoming in 2023). Profiling foreign-language knowing ethnic minorities in China: An exploratory study based on a big-data survey.


Rining WEI (Tony), PhD, teaches courses related to bilingualism and research methods at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, at the Department of Applied Linguistics, XJTLU. He directs the MA TESOL Programme, one of XJTLU’s largest postgraduate degree programmes. He has supervised master’s and PhD dissertation projects covering topics such as English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and individual differences in L2 learning. He has published in journals including Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, and World Englishes. He serves as Associate Editor for TESOL International Journal (Scopus-indexed) and Co-Editor-in-Chief of International Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

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