Duff, P., Anderson, T., Doherty, L., & Wang, R. (2015). Representations of Chinese language learning in contemporary English-language news media: Hope, hype, and fear. Global Chinese, 1(1), 139–168
The growing body of research on Chinese as an international (or “global”) language examines linguistic, psycholinguistic, social-psychological, and orthographic aspects of acquisition primarily. There has been relatively little critical discussion or analysis of the larger social context and discourses in which Chinese language education is embedded. However, recently sociocultural, discursive, and critical aspects of the teaching, learning, and use of Chinese as an additional language have begun to receive more attention. This study analyzes circulating discourses, ideologies, and tropes related to Chinese in news media, as one means by which information and perspectives are spread by media and by which public attitudes and policy decisions are (recursively) shaped or reproduced. To this end, a large sample of English-medium news reports of Chinese language education in three Anglophone countries was created and analyzed for the years 2004 to 2012. The findings revealed that reports dealing with Chinese education tended to fall into one of several major tropes, which we have roughly classified as “hope,” “hype,” and “fear,” distinctions that parallel existing models of cyclical or amplified media coverage of innovations or otherwise newsworthy events. The sociopolitically and socioeconomically motivated occurrence of these tropes in the media, combined with the novelty of the Chinese language itself, a historically less frequently taught language in comparison with various European languages, constituted a consistent and recurring narrative. Thus, the shifting representations of Chinese learning in the media tended to appear as corollaries or “side stories” servicing the needs of larger geopolitical events and perceived or desired changes in public sentiment. These trends and their significance are illustrated and discussed in relation to Global Chinese.