Interculturality in Learning Mandarin Chinese in British Universities  book cover
1st Edition

Interculturality in Learning Mandarin Chinese in British Universities

ISBN 9781138228306
Published November 30, 2020 by Routledge
188 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

As China and Chinese language learning moves centre stage economically and politically, questions of interculturality assume even greater significance. In this book interculturality draws attention to the processes involved in people engaging and exchanging with each other across languages, nationalities and ethnicities.

The study, which adopts an ecological perspective, critically examines a range of issues and uses a variety of sources to conduct a multifaceted investigation. Data gathered from interviews with students of Mandarin sit alongside a critical discussion of a wide range of sources.

Interculturality in Learning Mandarin Chinese in British Universities will be of interest to students and academics studying and researching Chinese language education, and academics working in the fields of language and intercultural communication, intercultural education and language education in general.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Introduction: Interculturality and the learning of Mandarin Chinese

Key themes and perspectives of interculturality

The contextual perspective

‘Small cultures’

A critical turn

Chinese language studies

Researching interculturality through perspectives of students of Chinese

Thinking ecologically

The research undertaken

Structure of the book


Chapter 2 Changing ideologies, institutions and contexts: the rise of Chinese and ‘foreign’ language policy

Interculturality and ideology

Developments in wider contexts

British Chinese and Chinese residents and visitors in the UK

Initiatives at school level

Hanban and the Confucius Institute

UK ‘Foreign’ language policy

On-going concerns about national language capabilities

HEFCE initiatives on Chinese studies

The rise of China and Mandarin Chinese

Emerging theme of ‘intercultural’

Concluding remarks


Chapter 3 Changing ideologies, institutions and contexts: university students, courses and textbooks

The changing ideology of learning Chinese: students’ perspectives

Developments of the teaching and learning of Chinese within British universities

University provision of Chinese languages courses in the UK

Approaches to teaching cultural elements

Chinese language learning materials

Authors and learning materials in geo-historical context

Ideological influences of textbooks

Critical views of students

Examples of textbooks of Chinese

A different approach

Concluding remarks



Chapter 4 Moving towards interculturality: Students’ understandings of ‘culture’

Interculturality and the concept of ‘culture’

Critical reflections on ‘Chinese culture’

Evolving understandings of the concept of ‘culture’

Moving towards ‘interculturality’

Researching cultural specifics with students

Cultures, languages, dialects – Mixed multilingual and multicultural landscapes

Students’ perspectives to culture-related questions

Developing critical cultural awareness

Concluding remarks


Chapter 5 Emerging identities: Students as ‘intercultural individuals’

Interculturality and identity

Cultural self-awareness

The ‘intercultural individual’

The Chinese language identity of learners

Concluding remarks


Chapter 6 Moving beyond ‘intercultural competence’: Students talk about their learning experience

Interculturality and intercultural competence

Intercultural responsiveness

Respect and transnational cooperation

Decentring perspectives

Decentring of cultural prejudices and assumptions

Adopting global perspectives

Attitudes toward learning the local language

Concluding remarks



Chapter 7 An intercultural approach to teaching and learning Chinese

Interculturality and intercultural education

Education ideologies on language teaching and learning

The role of culture in an intercultural approach to teaching and learning Chinese

Including cultural and intercultural elements: Perspectives of students and lecturers

Acquiring language proficiency as the primary goal

The translation-grammar approach and beyond

Individual autonomy in the use of teaching approaches

A focus on learning process and teacher-student relationships

Openness to interpretation and learning

Ethnographic approach

Concluding remarks


Chapter 8 Conclusion: Looking to the future

Complexity of the field of study

Changing ideologies

Moving beyond ‘intercultural competence’

Cultural understanding and identity

Taking account of disruption, confusion and challenges

Intercultural individuals, superdiversity and translanguaging

Legacy of orientalism and promoting a decentred view

Intercultural approach and British universities

Interculturalization of higher education and student mobility

Perspectives derived from other languages

Looking to the future

Implications for university courses

Support for lecturers

Governmental and institutional policy implications



Appendix – Biographical details of student interviewees


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Tinghe Jin joined the School of Education and Lifelong Learning, University of East Anglia (UEA) following the award of a postdoctoral fellowship from the British Academy. She completed her PhD as a Centenary Scholar at University College London (UCL) Institute of Education. She then became an assistant professor in research at Durham University with the British Academy postdoctoral fellowship award. Her research specialises in intercultural education, specifically in relation to the teaching and learning of Chinese. She has published several articles and book chapters on Chinese language education and teachers’ professional development and has co-edited books and journal special issues which address issues and developments in Chinese educational research. She is also the founding president of the Chinese Educational Research Association in the UK.