Navigating the Digital World: Teaching Contemporary Chinese Culture via a Third Space With a Multimodal Approach

Navigating the Digital World: Teaching Contemporary Chinese Culture via a Third Space With a Multimodal Approach

Amily Guenier (Lancaster University, UK) and Ge Min (University of Chester, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.313441
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


This study explores a multimodal approach to teaching contemporary Chinese culture to foster university students' intercultural awareness and intercultural communication competence via a third space. Two universities in the UK took part in the study where the course contents moved from static notions of culture-as-fact in terms of national traditions to digital presentation of and live discussion about contemporary China. The pedagogy includes discussing Chinese celebrities' digital videos and films on digital platforms, and students' digital presentations in multimodal modes. Findings from students' comments in the module evaluations, students' reflective essays, and lecturers' observations prove the viability of this approach, and the data analyzed via themes address the function of the third space, the application of multimodality, and approaches to intercultural awareness and intercultural communication competence. The paper suggests that multimodality can be an effective approach to advancing theory and practice in future contemporary culture teaching.
Article Preview


The recent UK Higher Education Policy Institute Report (Natzler, 2022) highlights the need to increase the understanding of the Chinese culture, people, and society in light of extensive collaborations and research. This supports another British Council report, which pinpoints that Chinese is one of the five top languages mostly learned (Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic, and German), and besides speaking another language, understanding another culture is equally important and crucial (Campbell-Cree, 2017). By understanding another culture, the report stresses the need to strengthen the international influence and cultural relationships, which in the long term depends greatly on the ability of young people to understand and connect with people around the world. Intercultural awareness is crucial for the UK’s success on the world stage, and in enabling the UK’s next generation to play a meaningful role in the global economy and in an increasingly networked world (Campbell-Cree, 2017). Indeed, speaking another language is not just about having a basic conversation with the people speaking that language, it is the understanding of its culture that opens doors to international experiences and opportunities. Regarding students’ future careers, UK employers and business leaders have a growing concern with graduates’ international cultural awareness – 74% of 500 business leaders surveyed (Education Committee, 2012) worried that young people’s horizons are not broad enough to operate in a globalized economy; 39% of employers were dissatisfied with graduates’ international cultural awareness. To be specific about the Chinese culture, most British business leaders assert that students with knowledge and skills of Chinese culture and language will have advantages in their careers (Zhang & Li, 2022). All the above concerns, dissatisfactions, and insights point to an urgent need to introduce Chinese culture to the students in the UK. However, how to carry it out in the current digital world, especially after the pandemic, is a task faced by foreign cultures and educators throughout all universities (Hartono, Suparto, & Hassan, 2021; Mustafaqulova, 2022). This study is an attempt to deal with this issue by exploring a multimodal approach to aid students in becoming well-equipped and competent global communicators through consciously attending to and reflecting on the meaning-making of another culture for intercultural awareness and intercultural communication competence in the digital learning environment.

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Volume 13: 1 Issue (2023)
Volume 12: 5 Issues (2022)
Volume 11: 4 Issues (2021)
Volume 10: 4 Issues (2020)
Volume 9: 4 Issues (2019)
Volume 8: 4 Issues (2018)
Volume 7: 4 Issues (2017)
Volume 6: 4 Issues (2016)
Volume 5: 4 Issues (2015)
Volume 4: 4 Issues (2014)
Volume 3: 4 Issues (2013)
Volume 2: 4 Issues (2012)
Volume 1: 4 Issues (2011)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing