Writing as cultural practice : case study of a Chinese heritage school in Belgium
Faculty of Arts. Translators and Interpreters
Procedia : social and behavioral sciences
, p. 1592-1596
By critically assessing the Chinese language pedagogy in a Chinese heritage school in Brussels, we analyze how the school insists on teaching traditional Chinese characters, which are used in Taiwan, by emphasizing the significance of writing, while adopting the transcription system Hanyu Pinyin, which was created in the People's Republic of China, and is emerging as the international standard of Chinese Romanization. The article reveals the cultural implications and meanings of writing Chinese characters, and conceives writing as a practice able to imprint cultural meanings on the body. However, although the Chinese heritage school considers Chinese characters as an essential aspect of linguistic and cultural education, the students, who are hardly native Chinese speakers and are educated in a western environment, develop their own ways to use written Chinese. The fact that they havily rely on romanization (Hanyu Pinyin), rather than on traditional characters, suggests different cognitive processes and illustrates deviation from the the school's didactially envisioned cultural practice, which confirms the unique position of the heritage school as a crossroads of cultures.