Chinese Teachers’ Perceptions of Creativity in the EFL Classroom: Advancing a Culturally Situated Conceptualization of Creativity

Document Type : Original Article


School of Languages, Linguistics, Music & Visual Culture, University of Aberdeen



This study explores Chinese EFL teachers’ perceptions of what characteristics define a creative pupil, beliefs about the malleability and creative competency of students, viewpoints on creativity’s relationship to academic subject matter, and assumptions of how creativity is facilitated in the EFL classroom. With the primary aim of contributing to the understanding of creativity as a cultural construct, rather than just a cognitive or social concept, this mixed method research design employed an online questionnaire to include teachers working in different regions and diverse educational contexts in China, as well as interviews to better understand and articulate teachers’ viewpoints about creativity in the language classroom. The results of the current study are remarkably inconsistent with the findings of the existing literature that largely support traditional Chinese perceptions and philosophies in relation to creativity, indicating that the concept may be changing in China and/or it may be defined and understood differently in the context of language education. Nonetheless, some traditional perspectives of creativity remain, such as its relationship to academic performance and intellectual aptitude. The study holds important implications for highlighting teachers’ conceptualizations of creativity and thus helping to illuminate and advance a culturally situated understanding of creativity in the Chinese EFL classroom.


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