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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Multimodal possibilities for intercultural engagement : an analysis of a popular Chinese as a second language textbook Frost, Christy


In our globalized and hyper-connected world, people increasingly need to be able to interact effectively with culturally diverse others (Zhang, 2020). Language classrooms are a pedagogical space where students have the opportunity to learn about and practice interacting across cultures (Liddicoat, 2008; Zhang, 2020). In second language acquisition (SLA), textbooks significantly shape students’ cultural understanding (Bewley, 2018). Textbooks influence students’ learning, not simply by their choice of information, but by the practices and types of engagement they support. My study analyzes the types of intercultural engagement and learning afforded through the third volume of a popular Chinese as a second language (CSL) textbook series, The New Practical Chinese Reader (NPCR). Drawing on Critical Discourse Analysis and semiotic approaches to multimodal analysis, I study how texts, images, and activities co-create social practices and meanings related to cultural engagement and learning. My study is guided by the following questions: 1. What kinds of intercultural engagement and learning are encouraged by NPCR 3? 2. What is NPCR 3’s attitude to cross-cultural engagements? 3. What kinds of imaginary engagement with cultural difference do the texts, images and tasks in NPCR co-construct or encourage? 4. What intercultural values and practices are most evident in NPCR 3? My research broadens the conversation around textbooks and culture beyond simple questions of who and what is represented, towards an understanding of how textbooks as multimodal objects structure and create types of intercultural engagement practices for language students. My research contributes to a deeper understanding of the kinds of (inter)cultural learning that are currently supported by language textbooks in order to aid teachers and curriculum developers in creating transformative language learning experiences for students.

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