Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Patriotism in Literacy Teaching in China: A Multimodal Analysis

Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Patriotism in Literacy Teaching in China: A Multimodal Analysis

Article excerpt


This article examines how the cultural value of patriotism is construed through examining multimodal texts in Chinese language textbooks that are used in China elementary schools nationwide. More specifically, within the framework of Systemic-Functional Linguistics, I analyze how do lexical and grammatical choices model experiential, interpersonal and textual meanings of the selected patriotic written text. By adopting SystemicFunctional informed visual grammar, this article then investigates how images model material reality, viewer/ image relations and compositional meanings. Finally this study studies how visual and verbal modes being deployed to manifest the ideology of patriotism. This article also demonstrates that through deploying multiple semiotic resources in the Chinese language textbooks, the Chinese dominant cultural knowledge could be constructed and imparted to students more efficiently.

Key words: Patriotism; Multimodal discourse analysis; Systemic functional grammar


Since the reform and opening-up policy was implemented in the late 1970s, China opened its door to the outside world and set itself on a path to become a member of the world. After nearly thirty years' reform, the marketoriented economy has been introduced into China, which has produced rapid economic growth. It also marked the Chinese Communist Party's intention to integrate into the global economy. Accordingly, Chinese literacy curriculum and school management has to be reshaped and reconstructed in this free market economy and the globalization tide. In Ngok and Kwong's words, Chinese literacy education has veered toward a way of 'decentralization' and 'marketization'. Decentralization means that the central government relinquishes control to the local governments, educational principles can be adjusted to local conditions and more and more private organizations are encouraged to participate in operating schools (Ngok & Kwong, 2003).

However, Chinese education system is still a socialist one, the one that aims to provide better service for the socialist modernization (Central Committee of Communist Party of China and the State Council, 1993). Although Chinese government decentralizes its control on finance and management of education, it has strict control over the content of curricula and textbook. Textbooks are believed to play critical roles in transferring dominant group's ideology and imparting the knowledge that are approved by the dominant group, as Apple (1999, p.62) says, 'the dominant groups in economic, political and cultural spheres attempt to control what counts as legitimate knowledge and perspectives in school for their own interests'. Among those cultural values, patriotism is the one of the most important values that the Chinese Communist Party emphases. According to Zhao (1998), after the 'Tiananmen Incident' (the one that might be regarded as the collapse of old official ideology), patriotism (or nationalism) was rediscovered and endorsed by Deng Xiaoping and his successors. Deng found that patriotism 'remained the one bedrock of political belief shared by most Chinese people in spite of the rapid decay of Communist official ideology' (Zhao, 1998, p.289). How does the visual and verbal modes being chosen by editors of Chinese language textbooks reflect ideational, interpersonal and textual meanings of the texts? How does the value of patriotism being imparted to child readers through multimodal textbooks? In the following sections of this study, after introducing the research framework and data, I will discuss the two questions in detail.


Since 1994, Systemic Functional Linguistics (hereafter, SFL) has moved from marginal to mainstream model for language in the world and has occupied senior positions in linguistics department in many universities worldwide. It also informs many applied linguistics and TESOL in many countries (Eggins, 1994). …

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