1st Edition

Chinese Language and Culture Education Representation, Imagination and Ideology of China in Australian Schools

By Chunyan Zhang Copyright 2024
    210 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Against the background of the Australian government’s strategic plan to promote Asian languages in schools, this book is an innovative autoethnographic inquiry into what actually occurs in the implementation of a Chinese language and culture program in an Australian context.

    Drawing on eight years of socio-cultural and educational fieldwork in a primary school, Chunyan Zhang examines complex, fluid and heterogeneous daily teaching practices and the ways in which ideas of China are assembled, presented and performed. She asks the following questions: What is China? Where does Taiwan fit into the China depicted in a multicultural, globalised classroom? Can Chinese communism or Chairman Mao be avoided in teaching English-speaking learners? What kind of China is brought in here while what kind of China is being silenced and othered? Through the partial connection between method assemblage and Daoist concepts, Zhang develops a water-like pedagogy in teaching. She uses the knowledge flow model to examine the imbalanced knowledge flow within teacher-student interactions. From finding China as a hybrid assemblage to proposing China as method, Zhang’s investigation makes an important contribution to the sociology of Chinese language education.

    This book is an essential and rich content resource for primary and secondary teacher education and research, teacher candidates and educators in Chinese as a second language education.

    1. Introduction: Teaching Chinese language and culture in the age of globalisation  2. Approaching complexity and multiplicity in Chinese language education  3. Tian (天, heaven): China becomes a hybrid assemblage  4. Di (地, earth): Making China real at the school  5. Ren (人, human): The emotional costs of performing China  6. Conclusion: from “What is China?” to “China as a Method”    


    Chunyan Zhang is an educator with many years of frontline teaching experience in the field of China study, second language teaching, early childhood and primary education. Her research interests include global knowledge flow, China as method, identity, self-care, curriculum design, global citizenship education, critical pedagogy for Chinese language education, and employing STS theories in educational research.

    How is China imagined and presented in Chinese language education in Australia?  For Dr Chunyan Zhang, this was the key problematic and question driving her research in this extremely well written, thorough, and scholarly book. As a multi-method text, especially pleasing for me is the fact that it’s grounded in narrative and autoethnographic inquiry. And as an antidote to much of the theory- and evidence-light examples of autoethnography in circulation in our current times, it’s extremely well researched. In summary, Zhang’s impressive work will, I’m sure, prove to make  a valuable addition to intercultural scholarship. It constitutes a seminal text, promising to raise intercultural awareness and competence - not only in her native China and in Australia,  but globally.

    Professor Alec Grant, PhD, Philosophical Autoethnographer and editor of Writing Philosophical Autoethnography (2014, Routledge), University of Bolton, UK