Looking Chinese and learning Chinese as a heritage language: The role of habitus

Mu, Guanglun Michael (2016) Looking Chinese and learning Chinese as a heritage language: The role of habitus. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 15(5), pp. 293-305.

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The identity-language link has been widely recognised. In Heritage Language research, the complex entanglement between Chinese ethnic identity and Chinese Heritage Language has gained increasing attention in recent decades. Both social psychological and poststructural schools have offered meaningful insights into this field, but have also received criticism from other perspectives. To think through these two camps of scholarship, this paper draws on Bourdieu’s sociological notion of habitus and zooms in on the visible racial identity of Chinese looks. To unveil the dynamics and nature of this particular form of Chinese identity in relation to Chinese Heritage Language learning, the author first surveyed 230 young Chinese Australian adults and then interviewed five of them. The survey result indicated that perceptions of Chinese looks were significantly related to Chinese Heritage Language proficiency. In addition, the theme of looking Chinese repeatedly emerged from the interview data. Participants considered looking Chinese as an integral part of their Chinese identity, reported powerful others’ stereotypical perception that looking Chinese necessarily meant being able to speak Chinese, and indicated that these internal and external understandings of looking Chinese came to shape their Chinese Heritage Language learning.

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ID Code: 98966
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Bourdieu, Habitus, Chinese Heritage Language, Identity
DOI: 10.1080/15348458.2016.1214586
ISSN: 1532-7701
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 Taylor & Francis
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2016 22:19
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2016 23:33

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