English in China's universities: Past and present

Kingsley Bolton, Werner Botha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


By many, the recent popularity of English in Chinese education, at all levels of learning, has been seen as a very modern phenomenon, which followed the opening of China in the late 1970s. In fact, the learning of English in China has a long and partly forgotten history, not least at the level of higher education. From an historical perspective, it is salutary to remember that English medium universities and colleges were first established in China in the late 19th and early 20th century. Today, all the state-run key universities in China are officially Putonghua-medium, but despite that, English has an increasing presence in university education, both in the classroom and in the personal lives of Chinese university students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-210
Number of pages21
JournalWorld Englishes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Putonghua‐medium
  • pidgin English
  • Sun Yat‐sen University


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