1.1 Research background
Cultural value is the core in language use, while language use is the carrier of cultural value.Cultural value is formed into a certain type via language spreading. Culture that languagecarries would have an effect on thinking and cultural values of people using that languagedaily and it will be reflected in common communication (Whorf, 1956).The well-known Culture Dimension Theory (also known as the theory of culturalcharacteristics of the human population), which is put forward by the social psychologistGeert Hofstede(1980,1991), is one of the most influential theories in the domain of culturalvalues researches and it has a very wide range of existence. Due to his initial work and work-related research, Hofstede statistically assembled four different cultural dimensions, which ispower distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism vs. collectivism, and masculinity andfemininity. Since 1970s, through statistical analyses, he has been engaged in the ratings ofmore than forty countries on individualism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance,masculinity, and long-term orientation to analyze cultural values of each country.Hofstede’s Culture Dimension Theory has marked the cornerstone of cross-culture study,which has been widely adopted by experts and scholars all over the world. They havedeveloped his theory to conduct further studies on multinational culture differences.In China, Hofstede’s Culture Dimension Theory has earned quite a few fans, which hasturned it more and more popular. These studies promote the ideas and perceptions of deepglobalization in full scale and help the theory to go further.
1.2 Research motivations
The author identified that power distance has always been researched in the businesscontext, namely multinational companies, groups and organizations to help improve themanagement and operation. “In practice, no society has ever obtained equality in the form ofcomplete consistency among different areas of rank (Hofstede, 1991:81).” This sentencemeans that power distance widely exists among the relationship that went with inequality,especially in China, which has been affected by feudalism for such a long time. Besidesbusiness domain, classroom teaching, including teachers and students, have attracted theauthor’s attention as another inequality relation.As college English teaching in China has become more and more influential andindispensible to the cultivation of students’communicative competence, an increasing numberof native-English teachers (foreign teachers) have begun to participate in China’s collegeEnglish teaching. Due to the key function of foreign language teaching method in teachingfield could not be verified, many scholars and experts have turned their studies to the processof classroom teaching (All Wright, 1988; Ellis, 1990, 1994, 1999; Chaudron, 1986, 1988).Therefore, the author decided to conduct a comparative research of the power distancebetween foreign English teachers and Chinese English teachers.Research on power distance can make comparison about culture backgrounds between thistwo teacher groups. Besides self-understanding awareness, it further promotes classroomcommunication and balances the classroom teaching methods. Power distance, as animportant cultural value and one of the key dimensions to measure classroom interaction andcorrelation, will promote the improvement of teachers’ communication strategies andcommunication behaviors.
2. Theoretical framework and literature review
2.1 Theoretical framework: power distance
Power distance, as one of the key member in culture dimensions, has been developed by agreat deal of schola