‘Thousands in gold in a family count far less than a skill one possesses’: socializing cultural competence in Chinese heritage language learning

Jianwei Xu, Hui Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper examines the ways in which authentic conversation provides a sociocultural resource for developing the cultural competence of learners of Chinese as a heritage language in Australia. It draws upon language socialization as a theoretical framework to study the interconnected processes of linguistic and cultural learning in interactional discourse practices through an intergenerational interaction model. In this model, local community resources were effectively utilized when older speakers of Chinese as their first language and English Chinese heritage learners were paired and conducted naturalistic conversations. Building on discourse analysis of the linguistic exchange between three pairs of interactants, we illustrate how the older speakers, that is, expert users, socialize the novice learners of Chinese into acquiring Chinese cultural knowledge through the related lexical items. Our analysis shows that this interaction model proves beneficial for developing socially and culturally competent members within minority communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-313
Number of pages18
JournalMulticultural Education Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Chinese as a heritage language
  • community resources
  • Language socialization
  • multilingualism
  • sociocultural competence

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