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Mandarin Chinese community schooling in England: Language, culture and pupils’ identities

GANASSIN, SARA (2017) Mandarin Chinese community schooling in England: Language, culture and pupils’ identities. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This qualitative ethnographic study adopts a social constructionist approach to investigate the significance of Chinese community schooling in the lives of pupils, parents and school staff. The study is important because it challenges homogenous and stereotypical constructions of Chinese language, culture, and identity evident in some previous studies, and promoted in the media.
Several key findings emerged from the study. First, pupils and adults understood language learning as the main focus of Chinese community schooling, whether focused on learning Mandarin, or English for Chinese-migrant pupils. Second, pupils and adults valued the role of the school as capital in various forms (i.e., social, economic, and cultural). Third, a contrast emerged between the focus of the schools on Mandarin as dominant Chinese language and the diversity of Chinese languages spoken by pupils and adults (e.g., Hakka and Cantonese). Fourth, pupils valued the transmission of Chinese culture but, unlike the adults, they were interested in its meaning for their family histories and identities rather than in the interiorisation of values. Finally, community schooling played a positive role in pupils' lives as it encouraged them to claim the right to construct their identity as Chinese, regardless of their spoken language(s), their life trajectories, and family background. Overall, this study has shown that Chinese community schools are linguistically and culturally varied spaces where pupils and adults coconstruct concepts of Chinese language and culture that are both informed by their life trajectories and ideologically charged. Furthermore, the schools are spaces that encourage intercultural encounters and, as such, are sites for intercultural awareness and development rather than “ethnic enclaves”.
The study provides valuable insights for researchers in the areas of international and intercultural Chinese language education and researching multilingually. Also, the findings offer insights for researchers, educators, policy makers, and the parents and children participating in the life of the schools to better understand the phenomenon of Chinese language community schooling.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Community schooling; Chinese heritage language; Chinese culture; researching multilingually;'bricolage' approach; ethnography; visual methods
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:25 May 2017 09:37

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