Current projects

Some of our research postgraduate students write about their recently completed or ongoing projects.

Irene An | PhD

Students’ Experiences of Online Learning using Blackboard Learning Management System in a Blended Environment

This research aims to examine the students’ experiences of online learning using the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) in a blended learning environment. It focuses on the students’ attitudes and perceptions of the integration of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) into the beginner Chinese language programs at an Australian University. It specifically aims to investigate whether the applications of technology in the language curriculum change the student learning behaviour i.e. the ways they approach different learning tasks and how they perceive the connection between online learning and face-to-face teaching and learning and whether they think online learning assist their overall study in the program. It is argued that in tertiary education where student-centred learning is highly valued, the curriculum planning should derive from a better understanding of students’ experiences, not merely from the demonstrated effectiveness of the new and fancy technologies or the proven effective teaching methodologies. Contextualized research on the specific cohort at issue is needed to inform practitioners so as to help them make immediate decisions about curriculum improvement which is positioned at the centre of their teaching agenda. By investigating and analysing the students’ experiences and collecting student interpretations of the blended learning environment, this research intends to provide the teachers with a holistic perspective in planning and enhancing learning, especially with regard to catering for various needs of a more and more diverse group of university students.


  • (2013). Integrating technology-enhanced student self-regulated tasks into university Chinese language course. International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, 3(1), 1-15.
  • (2012). Integrating ChinesePod into lower intermediate Chinese courses. In D. B. Xu (Ed.), Technology and Chinese Language Teaching in the US. Beijing: China Social Sciences Press.

Conference papers

  • Conference papers
    Paper presented at TCLT6 (the Sixth International Conference and Workshops on Technology and Chinese Language Teaching in the 21st Century) in June, 2010: Integrating ChinesePod into Lower Intermediate Chinese Course
  • The 12th Association of Pacific Rim Universities Doctoral Students Conference (APRU DSC). Paper titled: “Effective Language Learning Strategy Use and Learner Training in Computer Assisted Chinese Language Learning Environment” . (Submitted for a book chapter)

Yuping Chen | PhD

A Multimodal Analysis of Chinese TV Documentaries with English Subtitles.

This study is a multimodal analysis of Chinese TV documentaries with English subtitles on both linguistic and non-linguistic levels with the aim of searching useful theorized and practical guidance for subtitlers. In particular, it explores how meaning is made through subtitles with interaction to other semiotic modes, including written and spoken language, pictorial, and acoustic elements. In recent years, the analysis of screen discourse has been much discussed in the area of audiovisual translation with a particular focus on subtitling (Gottlieb, 1994, 1997a & b; Kruger, 2001; Greenail, 2011; Veiga, 2009; Luque, 2003; Pettit, 2011; Mubenga, 2009; Karamitroglou, 2000; Tuominen, 2011), however multimodal subtitling is still an under-theorized research area and a systemic framework is required to give practical guidance to subtitlers. Subtitling is not confined to linguistic level, but closely relates to other forms of semiotics in audiovisual text, including visual and acoustic elements. Actually, no text is made entirely of linguistic languages but involving multisemiosis, which makes text a “combination of sensory signs carrying communicative intention” (Gottlieb, 2003). Thus, linguistics must come into dialogue with other fields of research, such as visual communication studies and media studies, to facilitate the interdisciplinary nature of multimodal research (Lim, 2004:196). Subtitle translation is a typical entity demonstrating both linguistic and non-linguistic elements. Meanwhile, the under-researched subtitled Chinese TV documentaries drives me to focus on this specific type of audiovisual text since previous research much focuses on film subtitling.

Jacqui Godwin | PhD

After Mao: the Reimagining of Gender in Chinese Propaganda Posters

Jacqui Godwin | PhD
After Mao: the Reimagining of Gender in Chinese Propaganda Posters

In the ten years following the end of the Cultural Revolution and the Mao Era, a vivid and intertwined reimagining of gender and governmentality began to unfold across the wide field of mainland Chinese culture. The thesis documents the dramatic changes in the way gender, particularly the feminine, was reconstructed in the early post-Mao period, through the window of Chinese propaganda posters (xuanchuanhua). The close reading of propaganda poster images (the primary texts) will be interwoven with personal accounts of gender and sexuality in the 1980s, from women’s autobiographical writing and interviews (the supplementary materials). The thesis is a project of art history and the cultural history of gender.

Conference Papers

  • ‘Women and Gender in Chinese Propaganda Posters’ – a lunch-time talk at the University of Sydney Art Gallery, in conjunction with the exhibition ‘China and Revolution: History, Parody and Memory in Contemporary Art’ curated by Stephanie Donald and Harriet Evans.
  • ‘Reimagining Gender in Chinese Propaganda Posters after Mao: the Heterosexual Matrix’ – a paper given at the School of Languages and Cultures Postgraduate Research Day 2010.
  • A.N.U Conference – ‘Reading and Society in the Chinese Speaking World: Treasure, Trash and Popular Writing’ - paper titled ‘Feminisms, Femininities and Female Bodies in Post-Mao China
  • Asian Studies Association of Australia, ‘Women in Asia’ Conference - paper titled, ‘Governmentality and Gender after the Chinese Cultural Revolution
  • Chinese Studies Association of Australia Conference - paper titled, ‘Sublimely and Unnaturally Sexed Bodies in the Writing of Zhang Jie’
  • University of Sydney Conference – ‘Towards the Third Millennium: Australia, Europe and Asia’ - paper titled, ‘Feminine Metaphors in the Art of Government: Gendered Subjectivity in Post-Cultural Revolution China
  • University of Sydney Workshop – ‘The Experience and Representation of Modernity in Twentieth Century Asia’ - paper titled, ‘Gendered Subjectivity and Modernity in Post-Cultural Revolution China
  • University of Sydney, School of Languages and Cultures Research Day 2009 - paper titled,‘After Mao: Reimagining Gender and Governmentality

Penny Wang Hooper | MA

The Teaching of Speaking in the Language Classroom

My study will explore the ICS (In-country study) students learning experiences in the context of speaking classroom in China by means of survey based research involving questionnaires and interviews. To date I have conducted a review of the literature in three areas. The first relates to oral interaction in the foreign/second language classroom. In particular I look at work relating to learner-learner interaction by Ohta (2001) and teacher-learner interaction by Walsh (2002), McCormick and Donato (2000) and Duff (2000) who find that during the oral interactions, the scaffolding strategy is often employed by both teachers and learners. While learners use it to assist one another in learning, teachers use it to execute language input and facilitate learners’ oral production. In addition, a productive learner- learner interaction needs to be realised through a variety of speaking tasks and activities that learners engage in. (Lynch & Maclean, 2000; Tyers, 2002; Humanez & Arias, 2009) And a well planned, structured and implemented task would lead to a more positive outcome of learners’ oral performance. (Ortega, 2005) Secondly, I consider issues in relation to the medium of language used in teachers’ instruction and learners’ learning. Here I draw upon studies by Swain & Lapkin (2000), McMillan & Turnbull (2009), Dailey & liebscher, (2009) and Nagy & Robserson (2009) which investigate the crucial role that learners’ first language plays in enhancing learners’ learning. The amounts of L1 use should depend on a number of factors, for example, the L2 levels of learners, the difficulties of tasks and individual orientations of both teachers and learners. Finally, I review literature dealing with learners’ beliefs and attitudes about the pedagogy employed in the class: how they perceive the relative merits of teacher-centred and learner-centred instruction. Although learner-centred instruction is greatly valued and supported by teachers and learners alike, Garrett and Shortall’s (2001) finding shows that not every learner agrees with this. Thus a mixture of the two pedagogical practices should be implemented to ensure the dynamics and interests in the course of teaching and learning.

Ruili Sun | M.Phil

Reader-Writer Interactivity in the Processes of Literary Production and Consumption: A Case Study of Chinese Serial Fiction Production and Consumption on Qidian

In the mass print age, the reader and writer are separated in literary production and consumption, whereas the new interactive media can now provide possibilities of connecting the two. Through the case study on Chinese fiction website Qidian, this research investigates interactive features, interactions between readers and writers, and the implications of these interactions on serial fiction productions. The findings achieved so far contribute to two main areas: firstly, the realization of cross platform interactivity that updated the concept of interactivity to a networked multi-dimensional construct, and the evaluation of reader-writer interactivity and its effects in this non-linear environment. Secondly, a maturing interactive web fiction production which builds on the force of reader-writer interactivity. Both findings point to the remediation of literary production, relations and communication from the print age to the web age. Endeavoring to achieve both theoretical and methodological rigor, whilst contextualizing and conceptualizing literature review provided as a framework of discussion, the Straussian Grounded Theory is applied as an open research approach and systematic data analysis methods.

Min Tao | PhD

Mother Tongue Education in China and Beyond: Ideology and Chinese Language Curriculum in China (1978-2010)

My thesis is concerned with the PRC’s Chinese high school language and literacy curriculum (1978-2010). It analyses the relationship between state ideology, state apparatus and the language and literacy curriculum in senior high schools in China. It is an interdisciplinary project drawing on the theories and perspectives from the sociology of education, literacy and curriculum studies.

This research focuses on the following issues:

  1. How the state authorities, state ideologies and the official political discourse assert influences on the content and form of the curriculum;
  2. The role of the process of decentralization exerts on the language and literacy textbook compiling and distribution.

The research applies documentary analysis and ethnographic studies. The primary data for this research include two influential textbooks series, the published government documents concerning official syllabuses and curriculum development, and my fieldwork by interviewing teaching professionals in two senior high schools in China.

Liang Xia | PhD

Translation of News Discourse: A study of translation practice of Cankao Xiaoxi (The Reference News) in China.

Cankao Xiaoxi (CKXX) is the most read Chinese daily newspaper run by the Chinese government. It collects news or information from international media, translates and reprints them in Chinese, and sells them in Mainland China. This study aims to explore the role of translation in news making in CKXX with a view to understanding news communication across linguistic, cultural and ideological barriers. It analyses the textual manipulation in news discourse by placing them in the historical, social and cultural context in which the translation occurs. It tracks the translation process from news selection, the micro-level process of translation, the meso-level process of editorial decision making, to the final translation product reframed for the readers. It also examines the translator/editor interventions in the global flow of information and outlines the strategies used for text manipulation in this state news agency. An integrated research framework informed by theories concerning interactions between discourse, ideology and power in discourse and translation studies was developed to address the research question: i.e. how international news has been translated or transformed from English to Chinese in Newspaper CKXX in China.

It is found that manipulation exists in every step of the news translation process, from text selection to linguistic expression, and from information transference to culture communication. A detailed examination of the processes in news translation also demonstrates that the powerful individuals and institutions produce desired target texts to manipulate their audience by creating a desired representation. It is argued that translated texts very much articulate the beliefs and stances of the translators or the institution rather than only those of the producers of news in its original language. Finally, this study discusses how the analytical findings could be applied in providing insights for news institutions, media professionals and general readers of the news translation.


  • Xia, L., & Wang, W. (forthcoming) Reframed news discourse: The manipulative impact of translation on news making, in Lubie Grujicic-Alatriste (Ed.), Applying Discourse-Analytic Research in Diverse Settings: Considering Praxis. London: Multilingual Matters.
  • Wang, W., & Xia, L. (2011). Researching the translation of political discourse in China. T & I Review. I:1 (59-86).

Conference papers

  • (2013) News translation in the most read Chinese Daily - Cankao Xiaoxi: Ideology and power. Paper presented at 5th International Language in the Media Conference at Queen Mary, University of London,
  • (2009). On the translation of MODALITY in the 2008 Chinese government report in Y. Fang & C. Wu (Eds.), Challenges to Systemic Functional Linguistics: Theory and practice (pp. 151-155). Beijing: 36 ISFC Organizing Committee.

Samantha Zhan Xu | M. Phil

Translating the relevant – The (Un)translatability of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its Chinese Translations.

The translating activities for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland have been prosperous in China since its first translation by Yuen Ren Chao in 1922. Due to the linguistic and cultural disparities between Chinese and English, many elements in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland have been considered untranslatable. This project aims to explore the concepts and the theories concerning untranslatability with reference to the English classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and examine how Chinese translators of different times tackle the challenge of untranslatability with a view to bringing out understandable information to the Chinese readers. This project also considers whether the "optimal relevance" has been achieved in their translations. The translated versions of this book examined in this project include Yuen Ren Chao's Alisi Manyou Qijingji 阿丽思漫游奇境记 in 1922, Fuan Chen's Ailisi Manyou Qijingji 艾丽丝漫游奇境记 in 1981 and Shan Leng's Ailisi Mengyou Xianjing 爱丽丝梦游仙境 in 2010.

Lubei Zhang | PhD

Multilingual language policy and the underlying ideology for ethnic minorities in China.

My present research tries to explore the multilingual language policy and its underlying language ideologies for ethnic minorities in China. It is particularly focused on Yi ethnic group in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture. Based on Spolsky’s theory of language ecology, the study aims to get a full picture of the language policy enforced in Yi-Han bilingual schools. It is mainly concerning the following aspects:

  1. The language practice in a particular Yi-Han bilingual school. Its instructional language, the textbooks used, learning resources, and the test system, etc.
  2. The linguistic landscape in the school and the nearby areas. The external as well as the internal linguistic signs, the traditional linguistic signs and the signs posted online.
  3. The language belief and attitude of teachers, Yi parents and students.

Large gaps have been found between the explicit top-down and the implicit bottom-up language policies. It has been found that the explicit policy of Yi language education is hard to enforce due to a range of social and economical factors. Lack of qualified bilingual teachers and limited choice for students seem to be the most apparent reasons. Thus Yi language, as the language of the local ethnic group, has dropped to a secondary place in the school while the explicit preferential policy towards Yi language just remains an empty term. A language shift and acculturation of the younger generation Yi seems to be inevitable.