Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Brad Washington

Second Advisor

Sedique Popal

Third Advisor

Stephen J. Roddy


The significance of teaching culture in the foreign language classroom has been widely acknowledged. However, it remains a challenge for language teachers to properly incorporate culture teaching into language teaching. Chinese language teachers in the United States also encounter the challenge of teaching culture to the increased number of Chinese language learners. In particular, scant attention has been paid to how Chinese language learners approach cultural issues and develop cultural awareness in the language teaching context of American secondary education. In order to address the research gap, the present study aims to explore how the teaching and learning of culture develop in an Advanced Placement Chinese course in an American high school based in the state of California.

This qualitative case study looks into concepts of culture perceived by the Chinese language instructor and the students. The teacher’s general approach to the teaching of culture is also investigated through classroom observations. The researcher then examines the observed teaching approaches and analyzes how the pedagogical practices help students’ development of diverse cultural perspectives. As the ultimate goal of culture learning is successful intercultural communication, this research study also focuses on exploring students’ development of cultural awareness through the process of Chinese language learning.

Research findings show that the teacher and the students have a similar notion regarding what constitutes culture. Despite their clear definitions about culture, the teacher feels it challenging to update her students with contemporary Chinese culture and some of the non-heritage students feel it hard to identify with any ethnic cultures. In terms of teaching approaches, the teacher makes good use of cultural values, cultural comparisons, and cultural change to connect the teaching of cultural products or practices with their corresponding cultural perspectives. Nevertheless, other teaching approaches might lead to cultural stereotypes or hinder formation of diverse cultural perspectives. Furthermore, heritage and non-heritage students are found to benefit from different ways to develop cultural awareness.