Teaching Chinese Language and Culture through Chinese Commercials

Min Zhou, Roger Williams University

Document Type Article

In: Global Business Languages, Purdue University Press, 13, 2008, 99-108.


In an era of global competition, it has become increasingly important for people in international business to be well versed in both global economics and intercultural communications. This has challenged the traditional curricula of language departments. With regard to the teaching of Chinese, traditional Chinese classes rarely deal with business practices. Many American business students and professionals are interested in Chinese because of the big Chinese market, but feel intimidated by the language difficulty. My article examines the possibility of integrating the real business world into the teaching of Chinese by introducing Chinese commercials to students. Commercials are contemporary authentic documents, easily accessible, and provide excellent linguistic and cultural insights. By examining Chinese commercials on both the denotative and the connotative level, the article not only explores the possibility of using commercials to facilitate the acquisition of Chinese language, i.e. the reinforcement of phonology, vocabulary, grammar and sentence structures. It also discusses commercials from the perspectives of culture and other environmental factors. By analyzing the contexts of producing these Chinese commercials, the article aims to improve students’ understanding of Chinese market and culture, thus bridging language and business.