The affordances of TV drama in building L2 Chinese learners’ intercultural competence
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Dr, Lingfen Zhang
As culture provides meaning to language-in-use (Halliday, 1978), developing intercultural competence must play an essential part in second language learning. Intercultural competence is a complex concept, consisting of knowledge, attitudes, and skills (Byram, 2009). In practice, however, current culture teaching within Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) often does not meet students’ need for access to the culture’s underlying network of beliefs and values, and the contestation and change occurring in contemporary Chinese society. Since many of these meanings in actual language-in-use can only be fully understood when considered in relation to context, that context-framed natural language-in-use is what second language (L2) learners need for meanings to be perceived and understood. However, context is close to impossible to provide in the limited environment of a classroom with only one competent speaker in the room. This study explores the cultural affordances of a contemporary Chinese TV drama, Tiger Mum, Pussycat Dad (Yao, 2015) for L2 learners. Selected clips were analysed by the researcher and by separate Focus Groups of first language (L1) Chinese speakers and second language (L2) Chinese learners. Comparison of data showed that the L2s constantly missed or misinterpreted the whole domain of face management, the impact of modernisation on the traditional role of men as women’s roles within family relationships develop, and today’s tensions and shifting attitudes to education between ‘exam passing’ and ‘real education’. Deeper analysis allowed the points of verbal and nonverbal behaviour at which these matters entered the interactions in the clip to be identified. The learning needed by the L2s to notice and understand these points were then used to frame a teaching approach and strategies to enable students to begin to acquire them. The study finds that the contextualised presentations of TV drama can provide a great deal of otherwise unavailable cultural information and if tightly analysed, could contribute well to providing access to complex cultural matters of significance to contemporary Chinese people which even educated L2s are often unaware or misinformed and which are essential to access if they are to reach the meaning of language-in-use. This study enriches the research of culture teaching in CFL both pedagogically and theoretically, and provides educational implications for curriculum designers in Chinese language, teachers of Chinese, and Chinese learners.
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