Dimensions of dialogue: Large classes in China

Lixian Jin, Martin Cortazzi

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

172 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter focuses on ways in which talk and culture mediate learning in large classes in China. We suggest reasons why classes are kept large and show how language teachers use pair and group work but seem to scaffold dialogue with the whole class. We argue that teaching large classes is successful in China partly because of interactive techniques in classroom dialogue, but mainly because of the underlying culture of learning. The Chinese culture of learning is elaborated using questionnaire data with both British and Chinese students and interviews with Chinese teachers. The dialogue about large classes needs to take cultures of learning into account and in the Chinese case to consider collectivist and Confucian values. Classroom events are illustrated using visual ethnography, particularly the stages in a large-class language lesson in a primary school.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-761
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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