Learning Cultures: The Example of Learning Chinese as Community Language in Chinese Schools in the UK
thesisposted on 04.08.2011, 15:12 by Chao-Jung Wu
Within a multi-cultural society, it is important to understand the effect of 'when culture meets culture'. This study uses the British Chinese schools, where Chinese is taught as a heritage language, as an example to explore the culture of learning when there is a meeting of British and Chinese cultures. The study hypothesises that under the situation of learning heritage language the students are learning more than the heritage cultural content, they are also learning about the 'culture of learning'. The study attempts to present an integrated account of the complex factors which contribute to the development of distinctive cultures of teaching and learning in these schools. It applies multiple methods in data collection, including a teacher questionnaire, followed by classroom observations and interviews with the teachers and some of their students. The students' learning strategies were also explored, using the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning developed by Oxford, to add dimensions to the findings. To analyse elements in the research context, an Ecology Model of Learning Cultures is proposed which extends from the concept developed by Bronfenbrenner in his ecology model of cognitive development. The study identifies several distinctive issues from the research context, including particular types of activities used in the classrooms, mixed-age/ability groups of children, distinctive roles of texts and textbooks, of the teachers and students, of the community schools, and the Chinese families. By using the analogy of 'microcultures' for each of the identified issue, the study intends to provide a better reflection of the complex nature of the culture of the UK Chinese schools than can be provided by the idea of an encounter between monolithic cultures of learning.