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Title:Teaching Chinese in a U.S. elementary school: identity issues and social cultural challenges
Author(s):Hsiao, Hui-Lien
Director of Research:Osborne, Margery
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Osborne, Margery
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Stake, Robert E.; Johnston-Parsons, Marilyn A.; Huang, Wen-Hao
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Secondary & Continuing Educ
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
postcolonial theory
sociocultural theory
Abstract:Learning Chinese as a foreign language is becoming popular in the United States with the growing Chinese economy and influence. In this qualitative case study I have followed a native Chinese teacher who took up citizenship in the United States, Dr. Lin, and the Mandarin Chinese language program she created in a Midwestern elementary school. Three research questions guided the investigation: (1) How were Dr. Lin’s identities constructed, re-formed and evolve, and how did the power structures within the school influence her identities? (2) How did Dr. Lin’s identity influence her teaching and shape her students’ perceptions of Chinese language learning? (3) How did Dr. Lin engage student thinking and facilitate student understanding of Chinese text, expression, and narrative in the activities she used in the classroom, and what computer and internet resources were used in the classroom and at children’s homes after school? Using case study and ethnography methodologies to structure this study and the theoretical frameworks of identity, sociocultural, and post-colonial theory and cultural imperialism to analyze the data, I found Dr. Lin had multiple identities in the environment she worked and lived in with many existing simultaneously. Dr. Lin’s teacher identity was influenced by her Chinese heritage as well as her teaching experiences at Shady Prairie Elementary School. Dr. Lin experienced various social, cultural and other challenges in working with students, faculty, staff and parents. Some frustrations stemmed from her lack of knowledge of the school’s, the student’s, and the community’s cultures before attempting to design a language program for the school. The focus of the Mandarin Chinese curriculum was placed on cultural awareness of China, while parents expectations demanded higher achievement in reading and writing the language. The tacit cultural knowledge Dr. Lin represented through her curriculum was engaged and reproduced by the students. Dr. Lin’s application of the computer and internet resources was limited and she did not have much support at school or in the district. The social and cultural challenges that Dr. Lin experienced impacted her personal and professional identities and created certain power dynamics at Shady Prairie Elementary School. Lacking familiarity with the school culture and socialization habits with faculty and administrators, Dr. Lin occupied a “colonized” position with school administrators as “colonizers.” Flipped over, her strong teacher-centered teaching style made her a colonizer of the students, reluctantly accepted by them, the colonized. In the multi-layers of colonization, Dr. Lin was becoming acculturated through mimicking the behavior and language of her American colleagues and friends at work and in life. She continued to become “the hybrid,” with mixed characteristics shaped by multiple social and cultural influences.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Hui-Lien Hsiao
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

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