Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Shelley Taylor


Sociocultural concepts (Krashen, 1981; Vygotsky, 1978; Wood et al., 1976) and a constructivist narrative film theory (Bordwell, 1985) offer interdisciplinary insights for a study exploring second/foreign language (L2/FL) interpretations of two intercultural films (films made in linguistically and socioculturally diverse contexts) with English audio/dubbing (Chafe, 1980; Desilla, 2014; Erbaugh, 2010). A qualitative reception study examined the potential of intertextual (i.e., knowledge of other texts) and cultural information as learning scaffolds as well as style and narrative cues as forms of comprehensible input used by post-secondary international Chinese and domestic Canadian students as they watched sequences from Shaolin Soccer (Chow, 2001) (English dubbed) and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (Thurber, 2004). Sociocultural concepts highlight the interdependent, collaborative, and mediating relationship between intercultural narrative cinematic systems and the viewer’s prior textual and personal experiences used to scaffold their comprehension (Vygotsky, 1978; Wood et al., 1976). A constructivist theory of film narration is informed by sociocultural concepts to describe film’s narrative structures and stylistic devices as multiple forms of comprehensible input (Bordwell, 1985; Branigan, 1992; Krashen, 1981). Findings demonstrated that while the Chinese and domestic Canadian audiences did not always interpret audio-visual information the way the filmmakers intended, overall comprehension of the U.S. and Chinese film clips (with English audio) was nevertheless effectively achieved using a personal mixture of prior knowledge and narrative information. For instance, groups relied heavily on intertextual knowledge and cultural information from their background as resources for comprehension. Additionally, while some of the participants felt they could not describe the function of the narrative film elements using technical film language, they nonetheless used narrative and stylistic cues to justify their interpretations of the film sequences. These findings highlight the need for more intercultural media literacy pedagogy within the L2/FL classroom.

Summary for Lay Audience

A film viewing study examined the use of cultural information, prior engagement with other popular cultural texts, and narrative and stylistic cues to interpret Chinese and U.S. films (all using English audio) by a group of post-secondary international Chinese and domestic Canadian students. This study highlights a need for second/foreign language (L2/FL) teachers and researchers to consider the various ways in which the social and cultural context of film production and viewer’s backgrounds influences interpretations and comprehension of audio-visual resources. Additionally, this research highlights ways that L2/FL teachers can implement media literacy strategies to help students understand how media texts from diverse cultural spaces construct information aimed at specific audiences, so students can recognize how their own cultural backgrounds contributes to their film comprehension skills, both inside and beyond the classroom. Findings show that both groups relied heavily on intertextual knowledge (i.e., knowledge of other movies) and cultural information from their cultural background for comprehension of both the U.S. and Chinese films. In relation to L2/FL narrative film comprehension, these findings highlight how the Chinese ESL viewers were active, creative participants in interpreting the two films and made use of their background knowledge of other cultural texts and the film’s narrative and stylistic cues to reinforce understanding. These findings support the need for more media literacy that includes instruction about media’s form and content made in diverse cultural spaces within the L2/FL classroom.