In this era of drastic global competition caused by knowledge-based economy, education plays an important role as a precursor, to which the public proposes a higher expectation. As a result, the development of education exerts tremendous influence on the national prosperity. Curriculum is the crucial way to achieve the educational aims, the major basis to organize teaching activities, the container to carry the educational philosophy, and it not only restricts the classroom activity patterns, but also has an influence on the physical and mental development of students (Xu, 2000). Consequently, curriculum reform is at the core of the educational reform.
Since our country was founded, a number of major curriculum reforms of elementary education have been carried out in response to the educational challenges and practical issues facing in China. In September 2001, the eighth nationwide curriculum reform of elementary education begun in 38 experimental regions. Till September 2005, over 90% of the regions stepped into a new elementary curriculum system. In 2001, Decision of the State Council on Basic Education Reform and Development made the task clear “to speed up the construction of elementary education curriculum system in line with requirements of quality-oriented education”. Since then, the Ministry of Education developed Elementary Education Curriculum Reform (Trial), which proposed a requirement of reforming on the curriculum system, course structure, course content, noting that it should be done to improve the materials management system for high-quality materials and materials diversification and to encourage relevant agencies, publishing departments and other organizations to write textbooks based on national curriculum standards.
Hereafter, China's teaching material policy transformed from the “one syllabus one textbook” to “one syllabus different textbooks” and the highly centralized management was gradually shifted to the co-management by the Ministry of Education, local
educational authority and school. After that, different kinds of English textbooks were published, which made an appropriate changes based on the National English Curriculum Standard (NECS) in course ideology, course aims, course content, course assessment. As is quite a big challenge, the replacement of textbook drove teachers to make a convert in teaching beliefs, teaching methods, teaching modes and approaches of assessment.
Since the NECS (2011) has been promulgated, the textbooks, consequently, were revised to improve the current teaching materials, and they have been put into use since September 2012. The NECS (2011) emphasized that the fundamental aim of English teaching is to develop students’ comprehensive language ability. The ability is based on the overall development of language skills, language knowledge, emotional attitude, learning strategies and cultural awareness. Opposed to the traditional syllabus which covered mainly language skills and language knowledge only, the NECS (2011) extended the range to emotional attitude, learning strategies and cultural awareness. As it stated, language knowledge and skills are the basis of comprehensive language ability; emotional attitude is an important factor that affects students’ learning and development; learning strategies are the prerequisites for students to improve learning efficiency and develop self-learning ability; cultural awareness is guarantee of the proper use of language.
Faced with such an obvious change in curriculum as well as in the textbooks, teachers are required to take actions to respond to the reform, in which there will be a great amount of problems to be solved. Therefore, as two of the most important problems, whether the teachers in Sichuan Province can adapt well to the new textbook from thought, emotion, ability and culture perspectives and what factors affect teachers’ adaptation are worth to be studied.
In the New Curriculum Reform, the textbook is the best container of the new curriculum ideology and plays a crucial role in knowledge presentation and objectives realization. While, in fact, not all of the English teachers can make best use of the revised textbook for many complicated reasons. And teachers are the most influential factors in a curriculum reform. In this way, it will definitely delay the reform process. In order to
improve the teaching efficiency so as to meet the standard requirements, some adjustment should be taken by English teachers as well as schools and education administrators. This study intends to investigate the present situation of teachers’ inadaptation to the new textbook to find out the influential factors to the inadaptation and to generate some possible suggestions.
As is mentioned before, in the new reform teachers are regarded as the most important influential factors for their creativity and subjective initiative. Thus the action research on teacher’s beliefs and behavior during the textbook using process not only can make junior high English teachers be aware of the causes of inadaptation, but also be a guidance of how can teachers adapt to the new English textbook better, which definitely can provide English teachers a theoretical basis and practical reference. This study, as a part of researches on The Curriculum Reform, may supplement the theories of the curriculum reform and teachers’ professional development. Practically, this study provides a specific operation instruction for teachers to adapt better to the new textbook as well as improve their own professional qualities so as to advance the reform.