Speaking against racism: stories of successful Chinese L2 learners of color in China

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Abstract

This study reports on two students of color studying abroad in China and examines the dialectic between their interpretation of American racism and their agency to study in China and speak Chinese. There have been steady increases in the number of ethnically minoritized students among the study abroad population, but students of color typically travel to places associated with their ethnolinguistic heritage. Existing research exploring study abroad students of color also tends to examine–either exclusively or partially–heritage learners with ethnolinguistic or ethnocultural affiliations to their destinations. This study switches the focus to black and brown American students learning Chinese in China. The results shed light on the relationship between structural racism they encounter in the U.S. and their agency to seek a place as an alternative to white dominance and enact a discourse against American racism. However, paradoxically, they also dismissed the racialization that they experienced in China as simple gestures of curiosity. These findings illustrate the potential of foreign language learning to engage students from disenfranchised groups in the critical discussion of race relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-132
Number of pages28
JournalCritical Inquiry in Language Studies
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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