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Representations of Chinese Language Learning in Contemporary English-language News Media: Hope, Hype, and Fear

对外汉语教学在英语新闻媒体中的表述:期冀, 炒作和恐惧

Patricia A. Duff / Tim Anderson / Liam Doherty / Rachel Wang
Published Online: 2015-04-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2015-1006


The growing body of research on Chinese as an international (or “global”) language examines linguistic, psycholinguistic, social-psychological, and orthographic aspects of acquisition primarily. There has been relatively little critical discussion or analysis of the larger social context and discourses in which Chinese language education is embedded. However, recently sociocultural, discursive, and critical aspects of the teaching, learning, and use of Chinese as an additional language have begun to receive more attention. This study analyzes circulating discourses, ideologies, and tropes related to Chinese in news media, as one means by which information and perspectives are spread by media and by which public attitudes and policy decisions are (recursively) shaped or reproduced. To this end, a large sample of English-medium news reports of Chinese language education in three Anglophone countries was created and analyzed for the years 2004 to 2012.

The findings revealed that reports dealing with Chinese education tended to fall into one of several major tropes, which we have roughly classified as “hope,” “hype,” and “fear,” distinctions that parallel existing models of cyclical or amplified media coverage of innovations or otherwise newsworthy events. The sociopolitically and socioeconomically motivated occurrence of these tropes in the media, combined with the novelty of the Chinese language itself, a historically less frequently taught language in comparison with various European languages, constituted a consistent and recurring narrative. Thus, the shifting representations of Chinese learning in the media tended to appear as corollaries or “side stories” servicing the needs of larger geopolitical events and perceived or desired changes in public sentiment. These trends and their significance are illustrated and discussed in relation to Global Chinese.


在学术研究方面,中文作为国际(或 “全球化”)语言的研究不断发展。但到目前为止,学者们主要关注从语言学、心理语言学、社会心理学以及汉字特征等角度探讨语言习得问题。相对而言,宏观的对汉语教育所处的社会现状与话语进行批判性分析的研究尚属罕见。所幸的是,近年来已有一些研究者在这些层面对汉语作为第二语言的教授、学习及使用问题给予了一定关注。本研究分析了 2004 到 2012 年间三大英语国家(加拿大、美国和英国)报刊、杂志以及电视节目中有关汉语教育的大量新闻报道。着重解析新闻媒体中有关汉语的话语、意识形态及重复主题的传播,以证明媒体在传播信息和反映大众观点的同时,也能起到影响公众态度及左右政策的作用。

研究结果显示,与汉语教育相关报道可大致划分为“期冀”, “炒作” 和 “恐惧” 的重复主题,这种划分与媒体对其他新事物或要闻的周期报道模式基本吻合。 媒体中这些重复主题背后的社会政治及社会经济动机,加上汉语本身的新奇性 (相较于欧洲语言,汉语在西方国家历来未被广泛教授),构成了一个 2004 到 2012 年间媒体中不断重复的故事。由此看来,媒体对汉语学习报道的 “爱憎” 变化,似乎是为更重大的地域政治事件,以及观察到的或者期待的民众情绪变化的需要而服务的衍生品。我们将结合全球化汉语这个议题,讨论和分析这些趋势及其重要性。

Keywords: ideology; Chinese language learning; media; representations; tropes; hype

关键词: 意识形态; 对外汉语教学; 新闻媒体; 表述; 重复主题; 宣传/炒作


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About the article

Patricia A. Duff

Patricia (Patsy) Duff is a professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she teaches applied linguistics courses and conducts research on the teaching, learning, and use of English and Chinese in various local and global settings.

杜柏丝是加拿大不列颠哥伦比亚大学 (UBC) 语言文化教育系的教授,她在该大学教授应用语言学课程,并研究英语与汉语在不同地方与全球背景下的教授、学习和运用。

Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson is a doctoral candidate in Language and Literacy Education at UBC. He teaches courses in applied linguistics for teachers and conducts research on the teaching and learning of English and Chinese as additional languages. His dissertation focuses on academic discourse socialization for Chinese doctoral students at a Canadian university.

安亭牧是加拿大不列颠哥伦比亚大学 (UBC) 语言文化教育系的博士候选人。他教授师资培训应用语言学, 并研究英语与汉语作为其他语言时的教学和运用。他的博士论文关注加拿大大学的中国博士生群体内学术话语的社会化。

Liam Doherty

Liam Doherty is a doctoral student in Language and Literacy Education at UBC. His research examines agency, socialization, and mobile technologies in Chinese language learning and use. Recent research topics have included Chinese learner agency and narrative language socialization through popular television dramas.

杜宇恒是加拿大不列颠哥伦比亚大学 (UBC) 语言文化教育系的博士研究生。他研究汉语学习与使用中的主体、社会化、移动通讯技术。近期的研究课题包括汉语学习的主体与流行电视剧中的叙事语言社会化。

Rachel Wang

Rachel Wang is a doctoral student in Language and Literacy Education at UBC. Her research and teaching focus on Chinese language education and instructional technologies for children, adolescents, and adults in Chinese second-language and foreign-language contexts.

王天璇是加拿大不列颠哥伦比亚大学 (UBC) 语言文化教育系的博士研究生。她的研究与教学的重点是中文二语与外语语境下的儿童、青少年、成人的汉语教育与教学技术。

Published Online: 2015-04-14

Published in Print: 2015-04-01

Citation Information: Global Chinese, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 139–168, ISSN (Online) 2199-4382, ISSN (Print) 2199-4374, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2015-1006.

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