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Learning to Read Authentic Texts in Chinese as a Foreign Language: An Action Research-Based Investigation of a New Approach towards Raising Students’ Awareness of Literary Function Words

Abstract

Understanding the gist of Chinese authentic functional texts is a particular challenge for advanced beginners not only because of the morpho-syllabic writing system, but also due to the particular literary style. A didactic concept based on Stanovich’s (2000) and Gernsbacher’s (1997) reading models was developed for teaching Chinese as a foreign language at the university level. It is aimed at drawing the students’ attention to highly frequent literary function words in everyday texts, facilitating both the formation of relevant units of meaning and the application of higher-level strategic reading skills. The implementation of this new approach was investigated using the framework of action research. The data were analysed with qualitative methods and the results incorporated into the several teaching cycles. Two quasi-experiments were conducted to elicit individual problem solutions by the students. These data were collected in the form of video recordings of group work and student worksheets. Due to the predictability of specific literary structures, a certain automatisation in processing literary structures could indeed be achieved. Further construction of meaning, however, will have to be achieved through attentive-driven strategies, e.g. targeted dictionary use. It is important to train the students’ executive control mechanisms (e.g. comprehension monitoring), since Chinese can easily lead into a ‘dead end’ due to the absence of word segmentation and a high degree of polysemy.

Open access
Novel Findings on Gender Differences in Self- Disclosure: The Sharing of Personal Information in Japanese Students’ Close Friendships

Abstract

Contrary to common findings on self-disclosure and gender, male students at a Japanese university that were questioned for this study reported significantly higher disclosure to close friends than their female colleagues-overall as well as for various individual topics (N = 479). Two different measures of self-disclosure were used, both yielding similar results. The gender differences were especially pronounced in cross-gender friendships. In accordance with previous literature, subjective feeling of closeness and respondents’ trust in the stability of the friendship were found to be positively associated with self-disclosure. While both closeness and trust in relationship stability were greater in same-gender friendships, no gender differences were found in this regard. The conclusion discusses the possibility of these findings being connected to shifting images of masculinity and femininity among Japanese youth, as well as changing interaction patterns between genders.

Open access
Overseas Chinese Associations in Austria

Abstract

Compared to other ethnic groups, oversea Chinese constitute a smaller portion of the Austrian population. However, they still share many common values, while leading a diverse social and cultural life. This paper focuses on Chinese associations as a significant part of the Austrian Chinese community. First, we introduce the history of overseas Chinese associations in Austria, especially the first two founded in Austria in the early 1990s. Then, we discuss the general characteristics and main functions of overseas Chinese associations, followed by an overview of other Chinese associations in Austria. Lastly, we propose a classification system of overseas Chinese associations based on selected characters, including shared provenance, profession, ideology, natural characteristics, and hobbies.

Open access
Printing Cosmopolitanism, Challenging Orthodoxies: Cao Đài Journals in Twentieth Century Vietnam

Abstract

In the first part of the twentieth century, some members of the French- or Chinese-educated but indigenous religious, economic, and political elite in southern Vietnam (Cochin-China) intensively engaged in spirit-medium practices. Many of them set up or joined the new Cao Đài religion and its spirit-medium séances. Integrating in their pantheon religious figures from Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and even Catholicism, Cao Đài leaders deliberately challenged the orthodoxies at that time, tactically undermining the local religious elites, but also proposing a universal theological redemption and moral reform through the publication of their new set of spirit medium messages. Very quickly after the creation of Caodaism in 1926, various groups branched off, borrowing and adapting this reformed and orthodox posture within the Cao Đài community itself. While the Cao Đài canon may be well-known to scholars, Cao Đài community journals have yet to be examined in detail, although they often served as incubators for the Cao Đài quest for orthodoxy and a modern path to salvation. Based on archival studies and field research trips to the relevant areas, this paper aims to show how collective and individual actors of these Cao Đài groups have mobilised institutional, rhetorical, ideological, media-based, and other resources to assure and legitimise their authority. Simultaneously, we will see how the Cao Đài religion emerged from very unique kinds of “redemptive societies,” combining both Western and Eastern esotericism to articulate new Asian expressions of orthodoxy, universal values, and cosmopolitanism.

Open access
The Safest Country in the World? Notions of Risk and Security in the Japanese Private Security Industry

Abstract

This paper tackles the question of what kind of views on risk and security prevail in the Japanese private security industry and analyses its discursive structure. A theoretical framework based on the Copenhagen School’s concept of securitisation and its modification by Olaf Corry-the model of riskification-is used to explain processes of shaping notions of risk and security within the discourse. By analysing newspapers and professional magazines, it can be observed that by constantly pointing out the risks, the environment of the private security industry slowly changes, giving private companies further opportunities to act as a positively acknowledged part of society. It is not them, however, who actively shape these circumstances; rather, the broader range of activities are enforced and legitimised by the police that seems to be increasingly interested in joint crime prevention strategies.

Open access
Self-Employment Among North Korean Migrants

Abstract

In the absence of concrete ethnic differences, the division of a single Korean nation into two opposing states has led to the creation of specific types of nationhood and state building. This pseudo-ethnicity, which marks North Korean immigrants as “other” to South Koreans, results in adaptation problems and cultural difficulties. As the sociological literature considers self-employment of minorities and immigrants to be an important avenue for upward economic mobility, this paper focuses on North Korean new settlers who have established their own businesses in South Korea. By case study analysis, it was revealed that new settlers and official organisations have highly differing perceptions on the issue of North Korean self-employment. Public authorities try to discourage North Koreans from becoming self-employed, which is why a comprehensive economic support programme is lacking. However, it was discerned that a new generation of new settlers is growing, showing high motivation and entrepreneurial spirit. The result of this study showed that a tailored support programme for self-employed North Koreans, such as an adapted form of social enterprises, is needed.

Open access
Sino-Japanese Relations and the Potential for Militarised Conflict in the Twenty-First Century

Abstract

The People’s Republic of China and Japan have been at odds with each other for over a century. Their modern relationship was shaped by imperialism, territorial disputes, and two wars. With the end of the bipolar power structure of the Cold War, both nations are vying for regional leadership. The unresolved territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diàoyú Islands (Senkaku shotō 尖閣諸島/ Diàoyúdǎo jí qí fùshǔ dǎoyǔ 钓岛及其附属岛屿) in the East China Sea serves as a constant catalyst for clashes between both powers and seems to be pushing towards a violent eruption. Thus, this paper assesses the risk of an interstate war between China and Japan in the twenty-first century. By employing the Steps to War theory, each step nations usually take before engaging in war, it will be analysed in order to see how far the brewing Sino-Japanese conflict has developed. This paper aims at answering the questions of the current risk of war, whether there is a palpable shift towards conflict escalation during the twenty-first century, and if so, identifying the main drivers for this development and ascertaining whether threats to stability are currently increasing or decreasing.

Open access
China Talks Climate: A Frame Analysis of Discourses on Climate Change and the Environment in the PRC

Abstract

In 2007, China overtook the US to become the largest emitter of CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere. China’s vital role in global efforts to combat climate change creates a pressing challenge to explore the unique characteristics of Chinese environmental values and policy processes, and to identify the frames that are employed to understand climate change and related environmental issues domestically. This paper investigates a) how the political context, as well as differing political agendas and policy goals within which actors operate, affects and sometimes constrains the frames they generally employ; and b) the specific frames used to understand and discuss climate change by interview subjects and in written documents. It finds that different frames are employed by those supporting the current regime and its attendant official discourses on climate change and the environment (mainly government officials) and those challenging or in opposition to such dominant framings (particularly NGOs).

Open access
Chinese Language Press in Austria: Discussing the 2008 Tibetan Unrest in Transnational Spaces

Abstract

This paper examines overseas Chinese identity construction in Austria by focusing on Europe Weekly, the biggest Chinese language newspaper in Vienna. The study adopts a quantitative and qualitative content analysis, with the latter focusing on Europe Weekly’s reporting of the 2008 Tibet unrest and a comparison of the newspaper’s coverage of the event to the media portrayals in the Austrian daily Die Presse and the Chinese People’s Daily. Findings show that the Weekly in general promotes a pluralistic view for its readers and, thus, provides a narrative of a hybrid Chinese identity that encompasses Austria, China, the local Chinese community in Austria, as well as transnational spaces of the Chinese diaspora. Yet, while the Weekly normally promotes plurilocal attachments and flexible self-assurances of the Chinese in Austria, the study also reveals how the process of Chinese immigrant identity formation might change when the country of residence and the home country find themselves in antagonistic positions. The findings demonstrate both the difficulties of maintaining transnational attitudes in times of a crisis and strategies of Chinese immigrants to somehow remain open towards the host society while simultaneously promoting the rhetoric of solidarity with the Chinese nation state.

Open access
Climate Change Policy in Chinese Online Media Discourse: The Case of the Debate on the Copenhagen Climate Summit 2009

Abstract

This paper discusses the debate in Chinese online media on both climate change policy and the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15). Based on the results of a discourse analysis of Chinese language weblogs, the paper argues that at the time of COP15 there was a dominant single discourse coalition, while also identifying alternative discourse formations. The main reasons for this discursive structure seem to be the ways in which actors are participating in the political process, the sensitivity of the topic of climate change in the Chinese discussion, and the influence of foreign debates.

Open access