Change, Tradition, and Moral Education in CSU Teacher Roles

Part of the Language and Globalization book series (LAGL)


During the first week of my first semester of teaching at CSU, I attended many “Welcome Week” activities for new and incoming CSU students. At one of the events hosted by the ELC, Vice-Chancellor Tsing played karaoke videos from famous Broadway musicals. During the group singing of the song “Edelweiss” from the musical The Sound of Music, the Vice-Chancellor turned to me and admonished the new students for not singing very loudly. She commented, “The students here are not very civilized. They don’t have any knowledge of culture.” These comments echoed her later remarks in our 2010 interview cited in Chap.  2 about using musicals and extra-curricular activities to “align their [students’] moral compass in that direction that will be beneficial to society,” and they struck me at the time as very strange, if not harboring a cultural elitism and even linguistic imperialism (Phillipson, 1992, 2009). Why would students entering a university in southern China be expected to know the words to an older English musical? And why was it the responsibility of English teachers and the university to “civilize” the students and “align their moral compass”? In my years of teaching in the USA, I had never been tasked by any supervisor with instilling any particular moral or ethical values with my students. Certainly, it can be argued that any educational context is full of values and part of the aim of attending a university is to be socialized into the “legitimate language” and “habitus” of the ruling elites (Bourdieu, 1991), but these goals and processes were never so clearly stated to me as they were during that first karaoke experience with my students.


Chinese Student Moral Education English Teacher Communicative Competence Chinese Teacher 
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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hunter CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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