Deflating the ‘Confucian Heritage Culture’ thesis in intercultural and academic English education

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14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper develops an interdisciplinary critical perspective on the concept of ‘Confucian Heritage Cultures’ (CHC), used in intercultural and English language teaching theory to explain the supposed culturally distinct learning habits, expectations and schemas many Asian students bring to academic classrooms in English-speaking countries. Drawing on political scientific, historical and philosophical research, it finds that the CHC thesis has little explanatory value; it does not take into account the effects of rapid social change in Asia, or the cultural diversity within and between contemporary Asian societies, and is often based on highly reductive, essentialist understandings of Confucian traditions themselves. Teachers are well advised to consider other explanations for their students’ learning habits and expectations and for the challenges they face in academic English classrooms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-211
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage, Culture and Curriculum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 4 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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