This paper analyses of some changing aspects of learning and ‘cultures of learning’ in China: these are related to meeting the needs of Chinese learners studying in higher education in the UK. We use the term ‘cultures of learning’ to draw attention to the socio-cultural aspects of key practices, expectations and interpretations of learning and the term is understood to include diversity of practices both at individual and group levels. We use the notion of changing practices in a double sense: firstly, practices in learning at school and university levels are changing in China and hence the cultures of learning that are likely to influence students’ pre-departure experiences include an aspect of dynamic change. Secondly, Chinese students in the UK change their practices in many respects as they learn in, and from, British academic cultures. The paper also delineates some long-standing features of learning in the Confucian heritage and summarises recent developments in the Chinese national curriculum for learning English. We propose a model of ‘participation- based’ language learning which includes cognitive, creative, cultural and affective dimensions. The paper considers practical issues related to the previous learning experiences that Chinese learners bring to the UK.
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