UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Engagement with Chinese popular culture in adult Mandarin language learning and socialization Fang, Sumin


Many studies in second language acquisition (SLA) have found that the incorporation of popular culture into classroom or self-learning can boost language learners’ motivation. However, little attention has been paid to Chinese as an Additional Language (CAL) learners’ usage of Chinese popular culture to learn Mandarin. This thesis seeks to explore how Chinese popular culture impacts CAL learners’ motivation for learning Mandarin and their language socialization process during their engagement. By creating a new theoretical framework which is a combination of language socialization and entertainment psychology, this study employs qualitative case study methods to investigate ten adult CAL learners’ experiences. Each participant was interviewed individually twice, before and after their two-week engagement with Chinese popular culture. Additionally, they were required to note down their pop culture activities and reflections during this period. This research found Chinese popular culture complemented learners’ formal classroom-based learning and contributed to arousing and/or sustaining their motivation to learn Mandarin. In addition, CAL learners used semiotic resources in Chinese popular culture to construct their identities in three dimensions: appreciation, identification and participation. There were three forms of social interactions associated with popular culture that mediated learners’ language socialization: learners interacted with media characters, learners observed social interactions among characters and learners interacted with others about Chinese popular culture. In addition to teaching and self-learning, this study found that CAL learners favored peer socialization with Chinese friends to carry out this pedagogy of learning Mandarin through Chinese popular culture. Yet, perceived (or real) propaganda in Chinese popular culture, issues of learners’ heritage identity and preferences, and the informal, fragmented, and sometimes even archaic language found in popular culture suggest that a pedagogy drawing on popular culture, while promising, is far from straightforward and must be considered carefully. This study suggests that Mandarin teachers should facilitate class discussions of Chinese popular culture, and extracurricular activity planners should facilitate individual peer socialization between a Chinese learner and a Chinese peer. Finally, textbook writers could consider establishing corresponding websites for textbooks, on which learners can access resources about Chinese popular culture, and can discuss popular topics in Mandarin.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada