Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10497/22826
Title: 
Authors: 
Supervisor: 
Goh, Yeng Seng
Issue Date: 
2020
Abstract: 
With China’s re-emergence as a global political and economic power, accompanied by a rapid global spread of Mandarin Chinese, there is a growing interest in the study of language use, proficiency and identity among ethnic Chinese in overseas communities worldwide. Singapore, as the only country with a majority ethnic Chinese population outside China, provides a unique case study.

Over the years, the dominance of English as the working language in Singapore and a medium of instruction under the bilingual education policy has gradually impacted language use and proficiency within the Chinese community in Singapore. The purpose of this study is twofold, firstly, to examine the relationships among Chinese language use, proficiency, and ethnic identity in third generation young ethnic Chinese adults (aged 21-30 years) who are born, raised, and educated in Singapore; secondly, to investigate whether the growing global influence of China and global development of Mandarin Chinese have an impact on third generation ethnic Chinese’s perspectives on Chinese language and ethnic identity.

The study adopts an explanatory mixed methods approach to combine and integrate quantitative and qualitative methods. The initial quantitative phase seeks to examine if language shift in bilingualism among the third generation ethnic Chinese is parallel to a shift in identity. The subsequent qualitative phase investigates whether their willingness to improve Chinese language proficiency is to enhance their ethnic identity due to China’s re-emergence as a global power. Analysis of the data drawn from 159 survey responses in the quantitative phase shows that Chinese language proficiency, but not language use, is positively correlated with ethnic Chinese identity among the young third generation ethnic Chinese adults. As products of the English-dominant bilingual education system, their language dominance in English has resulted in a shift in self-identity from ethnic Chinese to Singaporean identity. The qualitative phase of the study adopts semi-structure interviews with six participants. It reveals that the growing influence of China does not have a significant positive impact on their ethnic self-identity, but on their willingness to improve Chinese language skills so as to acquire more linguistic capital to gain access to the global job market.

The study offers significant contributions to the existing literature. The relationship between Chinese as a heritage language and ethnic identity has gained more attention in North America and Australia. However, little or no similar research is conducted in other parts of the world. This study is the first attempt to conduct a systemic study on the relationship between language and identity among ethnic Chinese in Singapore, with a specific focus on young third generation adults. In term of terminology, having taken Singapore’s sociopolitical and educational context into consideration, the study has redefined “generational cohorts” as linguistic generation based on one’s family member’s education in his/her mother tongue/heritage language. The theoretical contribution of the study is that it proposes the dual function of Chinese, as both a heritage language and an international language, and provides fresh perspectives to the different approaches in the teaching and learning of Chinese language in Singapore and overseas Chinese communities worldwide.

随着中国在国际影响力的提升、汉语在全球的迅速传播,华裔在世界各地居住国的华语使用与能力情况及其身份认同引起学界的广泛关注与重视。新加坡作为以华人为主的移民社会,由于历史、社会、文化、教育等因素,成为华裔语言使用能力和身份认同研究的特殊案例。

本论文通过问卷调查的定量研究方法以及半结构式访谈的质性研究方法相结合的方式,并以在新加坡土生土长并完成双语教育的第三代华裔青年(21-30岁)为对象,深入探讨新加坡第三代华裔青年华语使用与能力以及华人族群认同的相关问题。在定量阶段,本研究以所收集159份调查问卷的数据,分析他们的华语使用情况、华语熟练程度以及自我身份认同程度,同时分析三者的相关性。在质性阶段,本研究将进一步探究新加坡第三代华裔青年对华语作为华人族群认同的看法,同时深入了解他们继续学习华语以及鼓励下一代学习华语的意愿。

定量研究结果显示,第三代华裔族群认同强度与其华语技能熟练度呈正相关。由于世代语言的变迁,作为英语优选的双语人,他们的华语熟练程度偏低,华人族群认同程度也不强。质性研究发现,尽管第三代华裔受访者都表示有继续学习华语的意愿,以提升自己的华语熟练程度,但在大部分情况下,他们不是基于族群文化认同的诉求,而是随着中国国际影响力的提升,希望通过掌握汉语以获得更多的语言资本,以便未来能够进入世界对华贸易就业市场。

根据所取得的研究结果,本论文发现“汉语”作为一个语言实体,已由原本仅有族群认同功能的族裔华语,扩充并包括国际汉语。在这个基础上,本论文提出“族裔华语+国际汉语”双轨并行的语言教学模式,并倡议新加坡华裔语言教育界应该采取这种新模式,以顺应新加坡内外形势的新变化。
URI: 
Issued Date: 
2020
Call Number: 
PL1068.S55 Fon
Appears in Collections:Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

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