Exploring commodification of English in advertising posters of online ELT tutoring platforms in China
Zhang, H., & Cheung, Y. L. (2022). Exploring commodification of English in advertising posters of online ELT tutoring platforms in China. In S. Li (Ed.), English in China: Creativity and commodification (pp. 129-146). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/b22909
The English language teaching (ELT) industry is an important area of activity in which English has been treated as a commercial commodity. While the commodification of English has been researched through the lens of ELT in many expanding-circle countries, little has been done to investigate how English is commodified within the ELT industry in China, one of the largest ELT markets in the world. In this study, we address this gap by examining the advertising posters of online ELT tutoring platforms in China. Adopting reflexive thematic analysis and visual grammar, we investigate the textual elements and pictorial elements of the selected advertising posters respectively. Results show that advertising posters focus on the ideas of selling North American teachers, selling English language learning enjoyment, and selling English speaking skill. Results also reveal that the key represented participants include teachers, students, and celebrities, who live in an unreal world, and the tutoring platforms establish a good relationship with the consumers and invite them to enter into this ideal life through employing various modality markers. The combination of texts and images suggests two language ideologies. On the one hand, English can be best taught by White people from North America. On the other hand, English is packaged as a key to success and a ticket to an imaginary fruitful and happy life. The study enriches our understanding of how English is commodified in the ELT context of expanding-circle countries.