Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1877-7031
  • E-ISSN: 1877-8798
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Few previous studies have examined the impact of social class on language attitudes and language use in mainland China. A total of 215 questionnaires were collected from a university in China for this study. The participants were classified into four social classes: upper middle class, middle middle class, lower middle class, and lower class. Then an individual interview was conducted with 10 students. Findings show that the students from the upper middle class had significantly lower attitudes toward local dialects and they had the lowest percentage of current use of dialect at home. The study adds evidence to findings of previous studies that local dialects might face certain danger of maintenance. It also shows that this change would start from people from the upper middle class. The study also points out a possible future tendency that social class privilege will play a more significant role in English learning and education.

This work is currently available as a sample.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bai, Jianhua
    1994 “Language Attitude and the Spread of Standard Chinese in China.” Language Problems and Language Planning18: 128–138. 10.1075/lplp.18.2.03bai
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lplp.18.2.03bai [Google Scholar]
  2. Block, David
    2012 “Class and Second Language Acquisition Research.” Language Teaching Research16: 188–205. 10.1177/1362168811428418
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168811428418 [Google Scholar]
  3. 2014Social Class in Applied Linguistics. London, UK: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. 2015 “Social Class in Applied Linguistics.” Annual Review of Applied Linguistics35: 1–19. 10.1017/S0267190514000221
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0267190514000221 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bourdieu, Pierre, and Jean-Claude Passeron
    1977Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. London, UK: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Chen, Judy F., Clyde A. Warden, and Huo-tsan Chang
    2005 “Motivators That Do Not Motivate: The Case of EFL Learners and the Influence of Culture on Motivation.” TESOL Quarterly39: 609–663. 10.2307/3588524
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588524 [Google Scholar]
  7. Cheng, Chin-chuan
    1975Language & Linguistics in the People’s Republic of China. University of Texas Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Cheshire, Jenny
    1978 “Present Tense Verbs in Reading English.” InSociolinguistic Patterns in British English, ed. byPeter Trudgill, 52–68. London, UK: Edward Arnold.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Cheyne, William M.
    1970 “Stereotyped Reactions to Speakers with Scottish and English Regional Accents.” British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology9(1): 77–79. 10.1111/j.2044‑8260.1970.tb00642.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8260.1970.tb00642.x [Google Scholar]
  10. Cohen, Jacob
    1988Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioural Sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Coupland, Nikolas, and Hywel Bishop
    2007 “Ideologised Values for British Accents.” Journal of Sociolinguistics11(1): 74–93. 10.1111/j.1467‑9841.2007.00311.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2007.00311.x [Google Scholar]
  12. Diemer, Matthew A., Rashmita S. Mistry, Martha E. Wadsworth, Irene López, and Faye Reimers
    2013 “Best Practices in Conceptualizing and Measuring Social Class in Psychological Research.” Analysis of Social Issues and Public Policy12: 77–113. 10.1111/asap.12001
    https://doi.org/10.1111/asap.12001 [Google Scholar]
  13. Dörnyei, Zoltán
    1990 “Conceptualizing Motivation in Foreign-language Learning.” Language learning40: 45–78. 10.1111/j.1467‑1770.1990.tb00954.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1990.tb00954.x [Google Scholar]
  14. 2005The Psychology of the Language Learner: Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition. Mahwah: L. Erlbaum Associates.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. 2009 “The L2 Motivational Self System.” InMotivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self, ed. byZoltán Dörnyei and Ema Ushioda, 9–42. Multilingual Matters. 10.21832/9781847691293‑003
    https://doi.org/10.21832/9781847691293-003 [Google Scholar]
  16. 2010Questionnaires in Second Language Research: Construction, Administration, and Processing. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Dörnyei, Zoltán, and Kata Csizér
    2002 “Some Dynamics of Language Attitudes and Motivation: Results of a Longitudinal Nationwide Survey.” Applied Linguistics23(4): 421–462. 10.1093/applin/23.4.421
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/23.4.421 [Google Scholar]
  18. Dörnyei, Zoltán, and Ema Ushioda
    2011Teaching and Researching: Motivation. 2nd ed.Edinburgh Gate, UK: Pearson Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Evans, Betsy E.
    2010 “Chinese Perceptions of Inner Circle Varieties of English.” World Englishes29(2): 270–280. 10.1111/j.1467‑971X.2010.01642.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.2010.01642.x [Google Scholar]
  20. Fan, Junjun
    2005 “Woguo yuyan shengtai weiji de ruogan wenti” [Aspect of Language Ecology Crisis in China]. Lanzhou Daxue Xuebao (Shehui Kexueban) [Journal of Lanzhou University (Social Sciences)] 33: 42–47.
  21. Field, Andy
    2013Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics. SAGE Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Fitz-Gibbon, Carol T., and Lynn Lyons Morris
    1987How to Analyze Data. London: SAGE Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Gao, Feng
    2014 “Social-class Identity and English Learning: Studies of Chinese Learners.” Journal of Language, Identity, and Education13: 92–98. 10.1080/15348458.2014.901820
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15348458.2014.901820 [Google Scholar]
  24. Gardner, Robert C., and Wallace E. Lambert
    1972Attitudes and Motivation in Second Language Learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Garrett, Peter, Nicolas Coupland, and Angie Williams
    1999 “Evaluating Dialect in Discourse: Teachers’ and Teenagers’ Responses to Young English Speakers in Wales.” Language in Society28(3): 321–54. 10.1017/S0047404599003012
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404599003012 [Google Scholar]
  26. Giles, Howard
    1971 “Patterns of Evaluation to RP, South Welsh and Somerset Accented Speech.” British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology10(3): 280–281. 10.1111/j.2044‑8260.1971.tb00748.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8260.1971.tb00748.x [Google Scholar]
  27. Guo, Longsheng
    2008 “Zhongguo xiandaihua jinchengzhong de yuyan shenghuo, yuyan guihua, yuyan baohu” [Language Life, Language Planning and Language Protection in the Course of Modernization in China]. Zhongguo Renmin Daxue Xuebao [Journal of Renmin University of China] 4: 34–38.
  28. Higgins, E. Tory
    1987 “Self-discrepancy: A Theory Relating Self and Affect.” Psychological Review94(3): 319–340. 10.1037/0033‑295X.94.3.319
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.94.3.319 [Google Scholar]
  29. Holmes, Janet
    2013An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9781315833057
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315833057 [Google Scholar]
  30. Jarvella, Robert J.,
    2001 “Of Mouths and Men: Non-native Listeners’ Identification and Evaluation of Varieties of English.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics11(1): 37–56. 10.1111/1473‑4192.00003
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1473-4192.00003 [Google Scholar]
  31. Jing, Song, and Yingmei Zhu
    2014 “Beijing chengqu bendi qingnianren yuyan shiyong diaocha baogao” [Survey on Beijing Urban Youth’s Language Use]. Beijing Shehui Kexue [Beijing Social Science] (4): 26–31.
  32. Labov, William
    1966The Social Stratification of English in New York City. Washington DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Lai, Mee-Ling
    2010 “Social Class and Language Attitudes in Hong Kong.” International Multilingual Research Journal4: 83–106. 10.1080/19313150903500945
    https://doi.org/10.1080/19313150903500945 [Google Scholar]
  34. 2011 “Cultural Identity and Language Attitudes – Into the Second Decade of Postcolonial Hong Kong.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development32(3): 249–264. 10.1080/01434632.2010.539692
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2010.539692 [Google Scholar]
  35. Lamb, Martin
    2007 “The Impact of School on EFL Learning Motivation: An Indonesian Case Study.” TESOL Quarterly41(4): 757–780. 10.1002/j.1545‑7249.2007.tb00102.x
    https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1545-7249.2007.tb00102.x [Google Scholar]
  36. Li, Qi
    2014 “Differences in the Motivation of Chinese Learners of English in a Foreign and Second Language Context.” System42: 451–461. 10.1016/j.system.2014.01.011
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2014.01.011 [Google Scholar]
  37. Li, Qiang
    2004 Zhuanxing shiqi zhongguo shehui fenceng [Chinese Social Stratification in Transition Era]. Shenyang, China: Liaoning Education Press.
  38. Li, Yuming
    2012 “Zhongguo yuyan shenghuo de shidai tezheng” [Features of Language Life in China Today]. Zhongguo Yuwen [Studies of the Chinese Language] 4: 367–375.
  39. Li, Wei, and Hua Zhu
    2010 “Voices from the Diaspora: Changing Hierarchies and Dynamics of Chinese Multilingualism.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language205: 155–171.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Lin, Thunghong, and Xiaogang Wu
    2010 “Zhongguo de zhidu bianqian, jieji jiegou zhuanxing he shouru bupingdeng: 1978–2005” [Institutional Changes, Class-structure Transformation, and Income Inequality in China, 1978–2005]. Shehui [Society] 30: 1–40.
  41. Liu, Honggang
    2014 “Yingyu xuexi dongji de shehui jieceng chayi yanjiu” [Research on English Learning Motivation: A Social Class Perspective]. Dongbei Shida Xuebao (Zhexue Shehui Kexueban) [Journal of Northeast Normal University (Philosophy and Social Sciences)] 5: 256–261.
  42. Liu, Xiangshun, and Xiaoyu Fu
    2014 “Wo guo pinfu fenhua xianzhuang ji youxiao kongzhi tantao” [On the Study of the Polarization Between Rich and Poor and Effective Control in China]. Xue Lilun [Theory Research] 13: 21–23.
  43. López-Gopar, Mario E., and William Sughrua
    2014 “Social Class in English Language Education in Oaxaca, Mexico.” Journal of Language, Identity & Education13: 104–110. 10.1080/15348458.2014.901822
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15348458.2014.901822 [Google Scholar]
  44. Lu, Xueyi
    2002 Dangdai zhongguo shehui jieceng yanjiu baogao [The Report on Social Stratification Research in Contemporary China]. Beijing, China: Social Sciences Documentation.
  45. Magro, José L.
    2016 “Talking Hip-Hop: When Stigmatized Language Varieties Become Prestige Varieties.” Linguistics and Education36: 16–26. 10.1016/j.linged.2016.06.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.linged.2016.06.002 [Google Scholar]
  46. Markus, Hazel, and Paula Nurius
    1986 “Possible Selves.” American Psychologist41(9): 954–969. 10.1037/0003‑066X.41.9.954
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.41.9.954 [Google Scholar]
  47. Marx, Karl
    (1867) 1976Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Vol.1. Reprint, New York, NY: Vintage Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Milroy, James, and Lesley Milroy
    1978 “Belfast: Change and Variation in an Urban Vernacular.” InSociolinguistic Patterns in British English, ed. byPeter Trudgill, 19–36. London, UK: Arnold.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Ministry of Education
    Ministry of Education 1999 “Mianxiang ershiyi shiji jiaoyu zhenying xingdong jihua” [Education Promotion Plan of Action for the 21st Century]. Guangming Ribao [Guangming Daily] 2: 25.
  50. Nguyen, Trang Thi Thuy, and M. Obaidul Hamid
    2016 “Language Attitudes, Identity and L1 Maintenance: A Qualitative Study of Vietnamese Ethnic Minority Students.” System61: 87–97. 10.1016/j.system.2016.08.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2016.08.003 [Google Scholar]
  51. Oakes, Leigh
    2013a “Beyond Diglossia? Language Attitudes and Identity in Reunion.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development34(1): 30–45. 10.1080/01434632.2012.697466
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2012.697466 [Google Scholar]
  52. 2013b “Foreign Language Learning in a ‘Monoglot Culture’: Motivational Variables Amongst Students of French and Spanish at an English University.” System41: 178–191. 10.1016/j.system.2013.01.019
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2013.01.019 [Google Scholar]
  53. Oxford, Rebecca, and Jill Shearin
    1994 “Language Learning Motivation: Expanding the Theoretical Framework.” The Modern Language Journal78: 12–28. 10.1111/j.1540‑4781.1994.tb02011.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.1994.tb02011.x [Google Scholar]
  54. Peng, Chun-Yi
    2018 “Mediatized Taiwan Mandarin: Social Perceptions and Language Ideologies.” Chinese Language and Discourse9: 162–183. 10.1075/cld.17008.pen
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cld.17008.pen [Google Scholar]
  55. Ramsey, S. Robert
    1987The Languages of China. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Riagáin, Pádraig Ó.
    2007 “Relationships between Attitudes to Irish, Social class, Religion and National Identity in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.” The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism10(4): 369–393. 10.2167/beb450.0
    https://doi.org/10.2167/beb450.0 [Google Scholar]
  57. Savage, Mike, Fiona Devine, Niall Cunningham, Mark Taylor, Yaojun Li, Johs Hjellbrekke, Brigitte Le Roux, Sam Friedman, and Andrew Miles
    2013 “A New Model of Social Class? Findings from the BBC’s Great British Class Survey Experiment.” Sociology47: 219–250. 10.1177/0038038513481128
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0038038513481128 [Google Scholar]
  58. Shin, Hyunjung
    2014 “Social class, Habitus, and Language Learning: The Case of Korean Early Study-abroad Students.” Journal of Language, Identity & Education13: 99–103. 10.1080/15348458.2014.901821
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15348458.2014.901821 [Google Scholar]
  59. Strongman, Kenneth T., and Janet Woosley
    1967 “Stereotyped Reactions to Regional Accents.” British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology6(3): 164–167. 10.1111/j.2044‑8260.1967.tb00516.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8260.1967.tb00516.x [Google Scholar]
  60. Sun, Lei, and Huiqin Mao
    2015 “Yuyan shengtai shiyu xia de minbei shuangyan jiaoji lingyu xianzhuang yanjiu” [A Language Ecological Study on Diglossia in Communicative Domains in Northern Fujian]. Yuyan Wenzi yu Yingyong [Applied Linguistics] 2: 68–76.
  61. Ting, Su-Hie, and Yann-Yann Puah
    2015 “Sociocultural Traits and Language Attitudes of Chinese Foochow and Hokkien in Malaysia.” Journal of Asian Pacific Communication25: 117–140. 10.1075/japc.25.1.07tin
    https://doi.org/10.1075/japc.25.1.07tin [Google Scholar]
  62. Tong, Fuhui, and Qing Shi
    2012 “Chinese–English Bilingual Education in China: A Case Study of University Science Majors.” International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism15(2): 165–182. 10.1080/13670050.2011.607921
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2011.607921 [Google Scholar]
  63. Trudgill, Peter
    1974The Social Differentiation of English in Norwich. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  64. Vandrick, Stephanie
    1995 “Privileged ESL University Students.” TESOL Quarterly29: 375–381. 10.2307/3587629
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3587629 [Google Scholar]
  65. 2011 “Students of the New Global Elite.” TESOL Quarterly45: 160–169. 10.5054/tq.2011.244020
    https://doi.org/10.5054/tq.2011.244020 [Google Scholar]
  66. 2014 “The Role of Social Class in English Language Education.” Journal of Language, Identity, and Education13: 85–91. 10.1080/15348458.2014.901819
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15348458.2014.901819 [Google Scholar]
  67. Vaish, Viniti
    2008 “Language Attitudes of Urban Disadvantaged Female Students in India: An Ethnographic Approach.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development29(3): 198–215. 10.1080/01434630802147619
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01434630802147619 [Google Scholar]
  68. Wang, Limei, and Hans J. Ladegaard
    2008 “Language Attitudes and Gender in China: Perceptions and Reported Use of Putonghua and Cantonese in the Southern Province of Guangdong.” Language Awareness17: 57–77. 10.2167/la425.0
    https://doi.org/10.2167/la425.0 [Google Scholar]
  69. Weber, Max
    (1922) 1968Economy and Society. 2vols.Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  70. Wu, Bo
    2004 Xianjieduan zhongguo shehui jieji jieceng fenxi [Analyses of Social Stratum and Class in Current China]. Beijing, China: Qinghua University Press.
  71. Xu, Jin
    2008 “Yingxiang wo guo daxuesheng yingyu xuexi dongji de shehui qingjing yinsu” [The Social Factors that Influence Chinese University Students’ English Learning Motivation]. Waiyu Dianhua Jiaoxue [Computer-Assisted Foreign Language Education] 121: 61–64.
  72. Yang, Chunsheng
    2014 “Language Attitudes toward Northeastern Mandarin and Putonghua (PTH) by Young Professionals.” Chinese Language and Discourse5: 211–230. 10.1075/cld.5.2.04yan
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cld.5.2.04yan [Google Scholar]
  73. You, Chenjing Julia, and Zoltán Dörnyei
    2016 “Language Learning Motivation in China: Results of a Large-scale Stratified Survey.” Applied Linguistics37: 495–519. 10.1093/applin/amu046
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amu046 [Google Scholar]
  74. Zhou, Minglang
    2001 “The Spread of Putonghua and Language Changes in Shanghai and Guangzhou, China.” Journal of Asian Pacific Communication37: 495–519.
    [Google Scholar]
  75. Zhu, Yingmei
    2012 “Beijinghua de shehuiyuyanxue yanjiu” [Sociolinguistic Study of Beijing Dialect]. Lilun Jie [World of Theory] 472(12): 106–108.
  76. Zou, Weicheng, and Shaolin Zhang
    2011 “Family Background and English Learning at Compulsory Stage in Shanghai.” InEnglish Language Education Across Greater China, ed. byAnwei Feng, 189–211. Bristol, United Kingdom: Multilingual Matters. 10.21832/9781847693518‑012
    https://doi.org/10.21832/9781847693518-012 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): language attitudes; language use; social class; 社会阶层; 语言使用; 语言态度
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error