Saskatchewan Sitcoms and Adult Learning: Insights from Chinese International Students

Liang, Siyin
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Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina

This study focused on one common component of popular culture, the popular television sitcom, to explore its influences on Chinese adult learners in Canada. Specifically, I researched how Canadian popular television sitcoms inform international Chinese adults with respect to their understanding of Canadian national identity, and subsequently how they draw on it in their learning, particularly in regard to understanding issues of multiculturalism and acculturation. The purposes of this study were: to find out how two Canadian sitcoms – Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie: a) can serve to raise audiences’ thinking about Canadian national identities, b) can be used as a pedagogical example for viewers to critically analyse Canadian politics, and c) can lead audiences to deliberate current social issues concerning justices and equity. The study was a qualitative exploration of two focus group discussions in which six international Chinese students from the University of Regina firstly watched two episodes of each of Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie, and then conducted group discussions. Gee’s (2014) discourse analysis model helped extract codes and themes, which further shed light on participants’ thinking and experiences they related to Canadian national identities. The themes were grouped into three sections: understandings about Canadian national identity from Corner Gas, perceptions of multiculturalism and pluralism from Little Mosque on the Prairie, and cross-cultural interactions and acculturation experiences in Canada. Research findings underscore the importance of examining the popular culture as public pedagogy by showing that adult learners can critically interpret cultural texts, reiterate hegemonic views, and produce counter-hegemonic opinions in order to create a democratic or unjust public space.

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Adult Education, University of Regina. viii, 120 p.