The Analysis of Cultural and Intercultural Elements in Mandarin as a Foreign Language Textbooks from Selected Malaysian Public Higher Education Institutions

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Chan Suet Fong
Dorothy DeWitt
Chin Hai Leng


Language cannot be taught outside the culture of the society. A foreign language learner needs to learn the context and the cultural elements to avoid conflicts and misunderstanding arising from differing values, beliefs, and customs. Hence, foreign language instruction needs to emphasise intercultural communicative competence and include cultural and intercultural elements. Teaching materials such as textbooks and learning modules should also include cultural elements to develop students’ intercultural communicative competence. Mandarin as a foreign language (MFL) courses has gained popularity among non-native speakers in local higher education institutions (HEIs) as the enrolment for this course has risen. However, there does not seem to be studies determining whether cultural elements are incorporated in the course and in the textbooks used. This study investigates whether the cultural and intercultural are incorporated elements in MFL textbooks from seven selected public HEI in Malaysia. Directed content analysis is used based on the cultural and intercultural framework for communication. The findings indicate that there were insufficient cultural and intercultural elements in most of the sampled textbooks. This means that in future, textbooks written for MFL should include cultural and intercultural elements for better understanding of the language.


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