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Global Englishes and translanguaging in textbook design and curriculum development for universities in the Greater Bay Area of China


The development of English as a global language has urged the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) to implement some reforms in relation to textbook design and curriculum development as well as the approaches to and goals of English language teaching (ELT). From the multilingual perspective, Global Englishes (GE) and translanguaging have both challenged the traditional native-oriented goal of ELT. Based on the level of language policy planning in the multilingual Greater Bay Area of China, this paper addresses the need to incorporate GE and translanguaging into textbook design and curriculum development. Referring to Byram’s framework of cultural content in textbooks, and to the GE proposal of exposure of multilingualism/multiculturalism and respect of diverse culture and identity in ELT, the paper further reports a case study to analyse the cultural content of the textbook, Speaking Critically: Intercultural Conversation. The paper also explores university students’ attitudes towards the integration of Chinese local culture into textbooks. The paper ends by addressing some challenges associated with translating GE and translanguaging into textbook design and curriculum development, and it provides further implications of such a proposal.


The field of applied linguistics in relation to language education is in transition where traditional monolingual ideology is challenged to foster an equitable multilingual de-colonising pedagogy (Dovchin, 2020; Li, 2022; Phoenix, 2009). In recognising a de-colonising pedagogy, the notion of criticality should be integrated into teaching practice by incorporating critical pedagogy into applied linguistics (Cogo et al., 2021; Pennycook, 2021). Therefore, it is essential to investigate how the concept of criticality can be incorporated into applied linguistics from the level of language policy planning (LPP). While some recent studies have problematised the native speakerism approach in English language education to view multilingualism as the norm of today’s discourse of English, it seems that GE is still a theoretical concept with few bottom-up practices in certain contexts (Chan, 2020; Galloway & Rose, 2018; Fang & Ren, 2018; Xu, 2019).

In terms of integrating GE into the practice level, the notion of translanguaging helps extend GE beyond the theoretical level (Li, 2018; Fang & Widodo, 2019). This is particularly significant for international universities where people from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds are in contact. From the perspective of multilingualism, which upholds English as a lingua franca, learners could benefit from implementing the ‘trans-’ theory in applied linguistics (Ishikawa, 2022), whether through translingual practice (Canagarajah, 2013), spontaneous and pedagogical translanguaging (Li, 2018; Cenoz & Gorter, 2022) or transcultural communication (Baker & Ishikawa, 2022).

However, there is still a gap in LPP to incorporate concepts, such as GE and translanguaging, into classroom discourse, let alone addressing the issue of curriculum design or assessment (Fang & Widodo, 2019). Indeed, a monolingual ideology still remains powerful in mainstream English language teaching (ELT) in traditional expanding circle contexts (Kachru, 1992)—for instance, through the English-only approach in traditional English as a medium of instruction (EMI) language and content class—although the argument for incorporating GE and translanguaging into language education seems to have achieved some success with a few bottom-up classroom endeavours (Fang & Liu, 2020; Fang & Ren, 2018; Rose & Galloway, 2019; Sung, 2015). From a less optimistic perspective, there is little recognition of GE and translanguaging in textbook design and curriculum development from the policy level in wider mainstream ELT contexts. Thus, many of the attempts have been made from a grassroots level for research purposes so they are less impactful in terms of enabling practitioners and policymakers to understand the need for translating GE and translanguaging in textbook design and curriculum development. Although bottom-up voices are important to guide LPP, there is a need to address how concepts, such as GE and translanguaging, can be incorporated into textbook design and curriculum development from the meso-level and the macro-level.

This paper focuses on the Great Bay Area (GBA) of China to address the issue of how GE and translanguaging could be implemented in textbook design and curriculum development in higher education. It is important to embrace GE and translanguaging for universities in the GBA of China because of its multilingual social landscape, with language policies, such as Biliterate and Trilingual (两文三语) (Chinese Mandarin, English, Cantonese) in Hong Kong (Leung & Li, 2020), Triliterate and Quaralingual (三文四语) (Chinese Mandarin, Cantonese, English and Portuguese) in Macau (Moody, 2021) and the multilingual and multicultural complexities in Guangdong Province (e.g. Chinese Mandarin, English, Cantonese, Hakka, Teochew) (Shen & Gao, 2019). It is apparent that monolingual LPP cannot reflect the current social landscape of language use or LPP in higher education. Recognising the diversity and complexity of LPP in the GBA of China will enable policymakers to further address the issue of what international higher education means from the level of LPP in the GBA of China.

Developments of GE and translanguaging

The concepts of GE and translanguaging both challenge the monolingualism and native speakerism in language education and offer potential future directions for transforming the current LPP. In the twenty-first century, GE has gained momentum as an inclusive term covering World Englishes (WE), English as a lingua franca (ELF) and English as an international language (EIL). While a detailed discussion of these various language ideologies as a theoretical framework is beyond the scope of this paper (Jenkins, 2015; Rose & Galloway, 2019; for a review of language ideology and identity in the Chinese context, see Fang, 2018), it is important to note that, while these language ideologies have a different focus, but all challenges the anachronistic belief of native speakerism in English language education (Holliday, 2006; Kumaravadivelu, 2006). The early twenty-first century has witnessed the development of GE as a concept that is separate from the new multilingual perspective of language use (Jenkins, 2015; May, 2014).

GE is no longer viewed from the WE perspective related to the codification of post-colonial varieties of English. It also goes beyond the EIL/ELF perspective in relation to communication strategy and language teaching to include ‘some peripheral issues associated with the global use of English, such as globalization, linguistic imperialism, education, language policy, and planning’ (Galloway & Rose, 2015, p. 224). A key focus of GE is to view people’s first languages (L1s) and local cultures as resources rather than as a hindrance to language learning and intercultural communication, which seeks to address linguistic discrimination in terms of language use at the educational and societal levels (Dovchin, 2020; García et al., 2021). However, GE is not widely adopted in textbook design and curriculum development and/or mainstream ELT classroom practice, and it is not well-reflected in language assessment (Jenkins & Leung, 2019). Because GBA of China is fully multilingual with a historical particularity, it is highly relevant to investigate the extent to which LPP in GBA of China would embrace GE to reflect the linguistic reality in this area, for instance, from the perspective of textbook design and curriculum development.

Another notion similar to GE is translanguaging with its polysemic nature of language use that ‘goes against the tradition of language separation and breaks the boundaries of the strict allocation of one specific language for one subject or for one day or class session’ (Cenoz & Gorter, 2021, p. 7). Indeed, the concept of ‘translanguaging’ was positioned as one of the components of the GE paradigm by Galloway (2017). However, with the focus more on linguistic issues, native language ideology of English use, it seems that GE lacks the awareness of socio-political level of language use to recognise multimodal and multisemiotic resources in language use and communication; thus the epistemology of GE and translanguaging needs further elaboration. While translanguaging is not a new phenomenon, in the twenty-first century it has become a topic of research as a practical theory of language in applied linguistics (García & Li, 2014; Li, 2018). The concept of translanguaging originated from bilingual education in Wales and it has mushroomed in applied linguistics as an integrated concept to recognise students’ multilingual and semiotic resources in language learning and use (García & Lin, 2017). A wider application of translanguaging has occurred in ELT classrooms and in content learning. Different from the traditional language ideology of native speakerism and the monolingual English-only policy in learning, both translanguaging and GE empower and value students’ linguistic repertoire to build new knowledge with the use of their diverse linguistic resources and the previous knowledge acquired (Cenoz, 2019). The concept of translanguaging is powerful because ‘it is about challenging the nationalistic assumptions of named languages and raciolinguistic ideologies that contribute to the institutionalization of linguistic and social inequalities’ (Li, 2022, p. 175). From a critical perspective, it is also about promoting equity and inclusiveness in ELT to challenge the normalisation of language practice, especially for minoritised and racialised language users (Fang & Hu, 2022; García & Li, 2014; Li, 2022).

According to Cenoz and Gorter (2017), there are two types of translanguaging: spontaneous translanguaging and pedagogical translanguaging. Spontaneous translanguaging involves both classroom discourse and social interaction as a more universal concept and it occurs naturally in the reality of bi/multilingual usage in a dynamic and fluid way; pedagogical translanguaging is a planned strategy for classroom discourse and it is defined as ‘intentional translanguaging or classroom translanguaging, because it embraces instructional strategies that integrate two or more languages’ (Cenoz & Gorter, 2017, p. 904). As this paper focuses on purposive language planning in textbook design and curriculum development, spontaneous translanguaging is beyond its scope so it is not discussed here, although the paper does address the use of spontaneous translanguging in classroom discourse by both teachers and students. In addition to discussing the incorporation of GE into textbook design and curriculum development, the paper explores the possibilities of how pedagogical translanguaging can be implemented in LPP for international universities in the GBA of China.

With a focus on LPP in the GBA of China, pedagogical translanguaging is discussed with the incorporation of GE into both textbook design and curriculum development. Although GE and translanguaging are powerful concepts that can be used to challenge the decolonising pedagogy in education (Giroux, 2022; Li, 2022), the response to both has been slow at the policy and curriculum levels in mainstream language education programmes. Thus, this paper presents a review of some of the steps that bottom-up voices have taken to implement textbook design and curriculum development from the perspective of GE and translanguaging in the GBA of China (with a focus on, but not limited to, the tertiary level); it also proposes some possible directions in relation to how GE and translanguaging can be translated at both the policy level and practice level in the multilingual GBA of China.

Translating GE and translanguaging in textbook design and curriculum development

In relation to textbook design and curriculum development from the GE perspective, Marlina (2021) has stated that ‘teaching English in today’s globalized(/ing) era means going beyond the idealized native speaker model’ (p. 239). Indeed, the ecological approach to textbook design needs the GE framework with the translanguaging approach that could have an impact on reforming curriculum development. Therefore, with the multilingual reality of the GBA of China, it is essential to recognise the necessity of translating GE and translanguaging into textbook design and curriculum development and implementing it into teaching practice. From this perspective, the learning goals and the textbook content should be readdressed to separate them from the fixed native standard ELT (Marlina, 2021), and a prescribed curriculum should be revisited from the GE perspective (Fang & Widodo, 2019). Previous studies focusing on translating GE into textbook design and curriculum development in the GBA of China are rather imbalanced with Hong Kong as the main focus, while Macau and the Chinese mainland (in this paper, mainly Guangdong Province) are responding slowly; proponents of GE and translanguaging have just begun to have a voice in textbook design and curriculum development.

Currently, very few internationally- or locally-produced textbooks are GE-oriented. Thus, GE has not yet made a noticeable impact at the textbook design and curriculum development. For instance, at the cultural level, Liu, Zhang, and May (2022) showed that Chinese culture was marginalised in the overall corpus of the English textbooks used in the Chinese context. These English language textbooks featured British and American culture, revealing a native-speakerism ideology. Furthermore, cultures of the outer- and expanding circle countries were entirely neglected. Although empirical evidence has shown the need to incorporate local cultures in ELT (Liu & Fang, 2017; Liu et al., 2022; Toledo-Sandoval, 2020), both linguistic diversity and cultural diversity are yet to be reflected in textbook design and curriculum development. A highly-relevant study by Chan (2020) investigated the impact of WE and ELF research in ELT curricula and textbooks in Hong Kong for the past 4 decades. He found that curricula in Hong Kong showed a transition from native speaker linguistic correctness to more subtle communicative competence, and that the curricula also recommended that students be exposed to varieties of English with an emphasis on the role of EIL. However, there remains a gap in the literature about discussing the intercultural strategies needed for international/intercultural communication, and varieties of English were not sufficiently referred to. In terms of textbooks, although the use of pronunciation teaching has decreased with more contextualised teaching materials in the Hong Kong context, native English still remains dominant in the listening audio samples. Thus, Chan (2020) has argued for the need to ‘reveal the complex nature of contemporary English and international/intercultural communication’ (p. 258) in ELT documents by updating the textbook content to correspond to the curricula.

Some studies have investigated the classroom discourse of EMI classes in Hong Kong. The findings showed that translanguaging is a natural meaning-making and knowledge-construction strategy for both teachers and students (Tai, 2021; Tai & Li, 2021). It was also found that translanguaging was adopted by a language educator who offered training on school curriculum and classroom practice in both Hong Kong and Chinese Mainland (Yuan & Yang, 2020). Fang and Liu (2020) investigated translanguaging at a university in Chinese Mainland from the perspectives of students and teachers in relation to language learning and subject learning. The findings revealed stakeholders’ overall positive attitudes towards translanguaging, and that the teachers adopted translanguaging for various instructional purposes, including ‘concept/language point explanation’, ‘comprehension check’, ‘content knowledge localisation’, ‘instruction reinforcement’, and ‘creation of class rapport’. Although the teachers noted some challenges, including the monolingual institutional policy and control of quality and the extent of L1 use, when translanguaging is used properly it facilitates various aspects of learning and maximises multilingual and multimodal resources.

A less-researched context of the GBA of China is Macau, which is regarded as a pluralistic society with various linguistic and cultural interaction. While few LPP studies have focused on Macau, a recent monograph by Moody (2021) addressed Macau’s linguistic complexity in society and education from both diachronic and synchronic perspectives. While curricula and medium of instruction in primary and secondary schools is beyond the scope of this paper (see Moody, 2021), at the tertiary level, Macau has followed the example of Hong Kong and offers English as the primary medium of instruction (Moody, 2021). The Chinese language is only used to a limited degree in Macau’s higher education system. In tertiary education in Macau, Portuguese is only used in postgraduate studies with students from Portuguese-speaking countries or in translation courses. Although some degree of linguistic diversity and cultural diversity was found in primary and secondary schools, with the increase of Chinese education for citizenship education, it was revealed that English is the language that is predominately used in higher education in Macau (Moody, 2021). Thus, further research needs to be conducted on the incorporation of GE and translanguaging in textbook design and curriculum development in Macau.

Although this paper mainly focuses on textbook design and curriculum development for the tertiary educational level, it should be noted that textbook design and curriculum development is normally consistent throughout all educational levels. Thus, this paper briefly addresses textbook and curriculum in Mainland China at the secondary level to better understand why LPP in relation to textbook design and curriculum development is incorporated at the tertiary level. Liu and Fang (2022) recently investigated the English curriculum at the secondary level from the GE perspective. They examined the phonological and cultural aspects of the National English Curriculum (NEC) by the Chinese Ministry of Education (2011) to determine the extent to which GE is incorporated into curriculum design. For general descriptions, they found that the NEC emphasised the accents, lexis and grammar of English speaking countries. In terms of phonological teaching, the NEC advocated the use of English in a specific context rather than focusing on accuracy, and teachers were encouraged to explore different English accents. However, it was found that only British and American accents were mentioned in the document. In terms of cultural aspects, although local cultures, cultures of the English-speaking countries and cultures around the world were mentioned, which may reflect the principle of teaching culture from an international perspective (McKay, 2002), it was revealed that the concept of culture was still viewed at a restricted national level and that intercultural awareness was not well-represented in the NEC. Furthermore, the NEC still positioned Anglophone cultures as superior to local cultures and other cultures around the world, but it ‘does not provide any suggestions about how to cope with differences in intercultural communication’ (Liu & Fang, 2022, p. 94). To summarise, from the perspective of textbook design and curriculum development, the NEC remains rather vague at the policy level without providing any practical guidance for how to translate GE into teaching practice.

Recently, some of the English textbooks used in Chinese Mainland have been revised to include multilingualism in the curriculum design. For example, in the new edition of New Senior English for China Students published in 2019, a unit entitled, ‘English around the World’, was changed to ‘Languages around the World’. This demonstrates that there is an awareness of multilingualism instead of only presenting the dominant representation of English in textbook design, which helps create an awareness of linguistic diversity in textbooks and the curricula (Jenkins & Mauranen, 2019). Moreover, the mystery of standard English has been discussed and critiqued from the old version of the textbook (although not in the new edition) to recognise that standard English is only a dialect with a diverse range of accents even within the US, although the representation of English is restricted to Anglophone English without an awareness of linguistic diversity from the GE perspective. However, one of the key changes is the inclusion of home cultures in the textbook design and curriculum development. It is worth exploring students’ attitudes towards the new presentation of home cultures in textbook design and curriculum development. Thus, a case study conducted in Mainland China is discussed in the next section.

Attitudes towards GE in textbook design and curriculum development: a case study

As some scholarship researching GE and translanguaging mainly focuses on the linguistic level without fully representing the inclusiveness of these concepts, the need to investigate the sociocultural level of GE and translanguaging is addressed here to further unpack the complexity of culture in ELT and decolonising intercultural education (Aman, 2018; Baker, 2015). This section reports on a case study conducted to investigate university students’ attitudes towards the inclusion of local cultures in textbooks design at the tertiary level in the Chinese context, as part of the GE principle for exposure of multilingualism/multiculturalism and respect of diverse cultures and identities in ELT (Rose & Galloway, 2019). The study adopted a questionnaire from Chen (2008) and Liu and Fang (2017), which was administered to 810 Chinese university students who were using the series of College Critical English Course textbook published by the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press (FLTRP). Furthermore, the textbook related to cultural content instruction, Speaking Critically: Intercultural Conversation was analysed to understand the cultural contents in that book. It is worth mentioning that Speaking Critically: Intercultural Conversation is an English textbook suitable for freshmen and sophomores majoring in English. According to the eight features of cultural content found in foreign language textbooks proposed by Byram (1989), each written feature of a home culture included in the textbook was identified and classified. These eight characteristics are represented as social identity, social interaction, belief and behaviour, social and political institutions, socialisation, national history, national geography, and stereotypes and national identity (see Table 1).

Table 1 Byram’s (1989) framework of cultural content in textbooks

In our study, we analysed the cultural content of the section of the textbook entitled Speaking Critically: Intercultural Conversation, ‘What do you say’, which contains 51 pages with Chinese home cultural representations. Based on Byram’s (1989) taxonomy, the results showed that all the categories of cultural content were represented in this textbook, which demonstrates that the book paid careful attention to the diversity of cultural content (see Table 2). However, there is a lack of consistency in the proportions of cultural content: while belief and behaviour, as well as socialisation and life circles are highlighted, social identity and social groups, as well as social and political institutions are less frequently mentioned. Such results suggest that, in the future, the textbook should be revised to include a more balanced cultural content to develop students’ comprehensive understanding of the home culture.

Table 2 The amount of Chinese home cultural content in the textbook categorized according to Byram’s (1989) taxonomy

To study the distribution of each cultural content category in the textbook, the cultural content category contained in each unit was reviewed and tabulated. As seen in Table 3, not all of the units are fully integrated into the Chinese local culture, and the proportion of local culture content among units is obviously different. Units 10, 11, 12 and 14 contain a large amount of content related to Chinese local culture because these units focus on the elaboration of local culture and they compare the target culture and the source culture (Table 3). For example, one of the dialogue sections in Unit 10 is entitled, ‘What does friendship mean in your culture?’ The dialogue revolves around the Chinese understanding of the meaning of friendship. In Unit 11, the topics of the dialogues are ‘How are Chinese and Western festivals different?’ and ‘What do you eat on festivals?’. Thus, the content of that unit mentions many types of Chinese festivals and festival food. The incorporation of a large amount of Chinese culture into these units seems to demonstrate that attention has been paid to local culture with the hope that the students can master relevant knowledge. However, as Liu and Fang (2022) found in the NEC, the understanding of culture is still at a national level, with cultural comparison restricted to the dichotomy between Chinese and Western cultures (cf. Wang et al., 2021).

Table 3 The distribution of Chinese home culture content in the textbook according to Byram’s (1989) taxonomy

Regarding the questionnaire results, it was found that nearly half (49.8%) of the respondents had a general understanding of local Chinese culture; 321 of the 810 (39.6%) respondents indicated that they were familiar with some aspects of Chinese culture and 3.6% (N = 29) indicated that they only knew a little about Chinese culture. Another salient finding was that 776 (95.8%) of the 810 respondents had a positive attitude about introducing Chinese culture to others and only two (0.3%) indicated that they were not willing to do so. However, 596 (73.6%) of the respondents thought they could only express part of their ideas in English, while 126 (15.6%) believed that they could not express their ideas accurately in English. Only 71 (8.8%) thought that they could clearly express Chinese cultural traditions to other people in English.

Aiming to find the current situation of home culture teaching in ELT, the questionnaire results revealed that 634 (78.3%) respondents had ever taken courses related to Chinese culture. Most of these courses were taught by Chinese teachers in Chinese (N = 324, 51.1%) or in English (N = 179, 28.2%), or by Chinese teachers in both Chinese and English (N = 130, 20.5%). The majority of respondents believed that they learnt extensively about English culture from their courses but only a little about Chinese culture. In relation to cultural content, 260 (32.1%) respondents believed that current English textbooks incorporated enough Chinese local culture, while 176 (21.7%) felt the opposite. More than half of the respondents (N = 472, 58.3%) stated that English textbooks should incorporate more Chinese culture by adding content about traditional Chinese culture.

Interviews were further conducted with five student participants. For the purpose of this paper, only the perceptions of and expectations for the development of cultural instruction and textbook design are illustrated. With the attention paid to the importance of translating GE and translanguging to promote local cultural instruction, it is particularly important to explore the future development of how best to integrate a student’s home culture into English language instruction and textbooks. The participants believed that textbooks and curricula must be improved in order to incorporate GE and local cultures. For example, one interviewee stated:

Extract 1

S2: In fact, I think it is still not enough for local cultures in this textbook. I feel that people mainly acquire Chinese culture through some Chinese classes in the past. After entering the university, students are divided into different majors. Maybe students of Chinese language or history learn more, while students of other majors are not exposed to such courses about Chinese culture.

S1 added that, in the course about Chinese culture, teachers and students would unconsciously use Chinese when they could not clearly explain something in English. In this way, translanguaging was adopted as an approach, but S1 commented that this approach has advantages and disadvantages:

Extract 2

S1: The bilingual curriculum allows us to have a clearer understanding of what culture is; the negative thing is that even the teachers can’t express certain points clearly in English, let alone the students. Even if we finish learning and know the connotation of these cultures, we can only express them in Chinese, not English.

However, S3 saw a positive side to this issue because the number of courses about home culture is increasing as is the knowledge about home culture in those courses.

Because the five interviewees are all users of FLTRP English textbooks, they were asked about their feelings and opinions of using that series of textbooks. They agreed that this series of textbooks was used frequently because universities considered them to be important foundational materials. S1 and S2 stated that the textbooks did not incorporate much local culture because the articles were mainly selected from some ‘authentic’ articles for students. However, S3 stated that although the amount of home culture that was included was sufficient, it was more important for teachers to guide students and encourage them to be exposed to local cultures in the learning process.

Extract 3

S3: After reading the textbook, I think the home culture incorporated in it may be enough, but what I learnt was mainly after class. Maybe the teacher helped us find those cultural content in the textbooks, as sometimes we were not aware of it when reading by ourselves.

For the future of English teaching, the interviewees agreed that it is important to integrate Chinese home culture into textbook and curriculum design (cf. Liu & Fang, 2017; Liu et al., 2022). They also suggested that, in the future, it would be important to incorporate other disciplinary knowledge into the English textbooks.

Extract 4

S5: In my opinion, the future development trend of English textbooks may be to carry out some interaction of interdisciplinary subjects. For example, in the process of learning English, we may acquire some knowledge of history or economics.

In summary, the cultural content analysis of the English textbook showed that Byram’s (1989) eight characteristics were all presented, but their proportions were different in the textbook. Furthermore, while only a few units contained sufficient content related to local culture, they seemed to compare the local culture and other cultures superficially at the national level with the simple dichotomy of Chinese culture and Western culture. For the questionnaire results, the majority of respondents had a general or partial understanding of Chinese culture, but few thought they could clearly introduce Chinese culture to other people in English as they more often learnt about Chinese culture in Chinese than in English. The interview findings echoed the questionnaire results and suggested that teachers should offer more guidance on how to integrate local culture into English-language instruction. These findings indicate that the incorporation of GE and local culture into English textbook design and curriculum development is still in its infancy stage, and there is much room for improvement.

Challenges of translating GE and translanguaging in textbook design and curriculum development

It is not easy to incorporate GE and translanguaging into textbook design and curriculum development, and doing so requires various levels of collaboration. It is particularly challenging to increase policymakers’ awareness of this need because top-down language policies are still dominant in many Asian contexts. There is a need for further research on the various curricula at different educational levels in the GBA of China. Based on previous studies, it seems that such awareness of English as a global language has been subtly incorporated into the documents related to ELT curricula in the GBA of China. One key challenge is the disconnection between policymakers, textbook designers, as well as language practitioners and students in relation to the overall textbook design and curriculum development and the teaching and learning process. In the GBA of China, many language policies have already recognised linguistic diversity and cultural diversity, multilingualism and even GE (while GE as a term is not directly written down, some mention it in relation to English as a global language, the globalisation of English language use, etc.).

Still, at both macro-level and micro-level, many language policies cannot be understood and implemented in classroom practice because (1) many teachers do not want to read such policies and are even unaware of their existence and (2) many educators just teach based on their interests or their desire to please their students; thus, they teach without guidance, for instance, based on their perceived effectiveness of EMI and their students’ needs and learning outcomes through EMI (Jenkins & Mauranen, 2019). At the meso-level, many international universities (self-proclaimed ones) in the GBA of China lack any linguistic support or opportunities for teacher development in relation to their linguistic practices and intercultural awareness (Chen, Chen & Fang, 2021; Fang & Liu, 2020). Teachers are ‘sandwiched’ in the position; thus, they would teach based on the textbook or based on what they are familiar with. They are aware of GE and translanguaging, but they are afraid of being criticised for not teaching based on ‘standard’ English or training their students to be native-like, and/or they are afraid of losing their authority if they do adhere to the English-only policy in teaching and assessment (Fang & Liu, 2020; Yuan & Yang, 2020).

We argue for the importance of empowering practitioners and students to shift their fixed language ideology through the English teaching and learning process before the concepts of GE and translanguaging can have an impact on textbook design and official curricula and/or assessment in the future.

Towards GE and translanguaging in textbook design and curriculum development

An innovative Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) curriculum calls for ‘a more flexible view of language, that emancipates non-native speakers from native-speaker norms, that repositions the target interlocutor and where learner agency is central and language creativity is nurtured’ (Rose et al., 2021, p. 159). This curricular orientation promotes multilingualism as the norm, which recognises the linguistic repertoire of speakers who use English in a dynamic and flexible manner for intercultural communication and for identity negotiation and construction. Of course, based on the discussions and proposals presented above, we realise that textbook design and curriculum development seeking to integrate GE and translanguaging approaches is never easy. As Galloway and Numajiri (2020) argued, curriculum innovation is ‘a complex process, particularly given the conceptual transition it requires of the E in TESOL’ (p. 119). In light of the need to incorporate GE and translanguaging into textbook design and curriculum development, Marlina (2021) has proposed a GE-oriented curriculum from the ecological perspective, as one that:

  • is undergirded by the philosophy of language as a complex and adaptive system;

  • is informed by students’ immediate needs and learning goals;

  • is grounded in the sociolinguistic reality of English in the world and in the context in which the curriculum is developed and administered;

  • utilizes students’ linguistic and cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1990) as learning resources;

  • promotes linguistic creativity and ownership in learning and using language;

  • requires teachers to work together with other key stakeholders (including students); and

  • employs various assessment practices that assess learners’ strategic and creative ability to use language to get things done, negotiate meanings, and shuttle effectively between various communicative contexts (pp. 245–246).

In particular, the application of such ecological perspective in GBA of China could promote the multilingual and multidialectal reality (e.g. Cantonese, Hakka, Teochew) with a recognition of linguistic diversity in knowledge acquisition process (Fang & Hu, 2022; Huang & Fang, 2021). In a similar vein, Widodo, Fang and Elyas (2022) proposed some GE-oriented learning goals (Table 4). This sample can serve as a useful reference for policymakers, textbook designers and language practitioners to reflect their understanding of GE and implement GE into practice by raising students’ awareness of diverse cultures and developing their knowledge of different English variations in inner, outer and expanding circle contexts. For instance, textbooks focusing on regional linguistic and cultural aspects can be designed in the GBA of China; language exchange programmes for enhancing linguistic and cultural awareness in the GBA of China can be organised to promote awareness of communication strategy and creative ability of language use. This would help learners in the GBA of China to realise language use in social level for communication in situ to inform the various language ideologies (the GE perspective) and experience inclusive and effective communication from multimodal, multisemiotic level (the translanguaging perspective). It is important to recognise teachers’ and students’ linguistic and cultural diversity as learning resources to maximise students’ linguistic repertoire to ‘leverage the students’ entire linguistic/semiotic repertoire to truly assess what students know and can do’ (Li & García, 2022, p. 10).

Table 4 Sample GE-oriented learning goals

In conclusion, this paper discussed the necessity and importance of incorporating GE and translanguaging into textbook design and curriculum development in the multilingual GBA of China. Based on a case study, this paper revealed that there is a need of incorporating different cultural content for textbook design and curriculum development. The results of a self-reported survey with university students also showed that although the students had positive attitudes towards integrating Chinese local culture into the curriculum, they were not confident about their ability to clearly explain their home culture in English and they needed more support from teachers to develop their intercultural competence using effective approaches. Hence, there is an urgent need to revise the current textbook for curriculum reform to enhance the teachers’ and students’ awareness of integrating GE and translanguaging into classroom practice—although there is a need to contextualise such strategies from a dynamic and heterogeneous perspective in implementation. However, the top-down language policies in the GBA of China still make it challenging to address the need at the macro-, meso- and micro-levels. To resolve this issue, it is crucial to empower stakeholders and help them recognise the norm of multilingualism and reposition English as a dynamic and flexible medium for intercultural communication and identity negotiation and construction. This paper concluded by providing some practical guidelines offered by Marlina (2021) and Widodo et al. (2022) for translating GE and translanguaging into textbook design and curriculum development and classroom practice as topics for future research.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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We are indebted to the guest editors and anonymous reviewers for their constructive and insightful comments and suggestions on this paper. The authors would like to express their gratitude to all the participants for their help in the data collection process of this study. In particular, Fan Fang would like to thank Yizhen Chen and Bingying Shen for providing the senior English textbook content and offering information about their first-hand teaching experiences.


This work was supported by the National Research Center for Foreign Language Teaching Materials, Beijing Foreign Studies University (2021) under the project title ‘Investigation on the Integration of Chinese Local Culture into Foreign Language Textbooks and Cultivation of Intercultural Awareness’.

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FF: conceptualisation, methodology, writing, review and editing, interpretation of data, funding; LY: writing, review and editing; HX: interpretation of data, review and editing; XW: interpretation of data, writing. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Fan Fang.

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The study was conducted according to the guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki, and approved by the Scientific Research Division, Shantou University. Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study. Written informed consent has been obtained from the participants to publish this paper.

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Fang, F., Yuan, L., Xu, H. et al. Global Englishes and translanguaging in textbook design and curriculum development for universities in the Greater Bay Area of China. Asian. J. Second. Foreign. Lang. Educ. 7, 35 (2022).

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  • Curriculum development
  • Global Englishes
  • Intercultural awareness
  • Local culture
  • Translanguaging
  • Textbook design