Cross-Cultural Communication: Taiwanese University Students’ Understanding of Symbols in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz

By Marilyn Baker.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article presents a one-semester project carried out by students enrolled in an elective undergraduate course, Adolescent Literature in Film. The project focused on the perceptions of Taiwanese university students in Taiwan regarding symbols noted in two American films, The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Tin Man (2008) based on the children’s story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum (1900). Working from the theories of communication of Shannon and Jacobson, students analyzed the two films and the written text with regard to symbols relating to values of “home,” “heart’s desire” and “obstacles” to its attainment. An open-ended questionnaire regarding the above values was administered at the start of the semester to help students to define particular values with regard to their Chinese language and culture and in determining the symbols that would best express these values for them. Articles available on the internet giving background information in semiotics (Antohin, 2006, Mattler, 1999) were assigned to assist students in vocalizing and structuring their ideas in English. The religious and political explanations for symbols found in the films that were offered by Rieley (1988) and Earle (1993) offered examples with regard to the three specific areas mentioned above. A comparison of those offered by American authors and the ones developed by the students in this class formed the basis for student reports for a department-sponsored panel discussion in the second quarter of the semester.

Keywords: Cross-Cultural Communication

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 11, pp.17-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.383MB).

Sister Marilyn Baker

Associate Professor, Department of English Language, Literature and Linguistics, Providence University, Shalu, Taiwan

I have been in the English Department of Providence University for over twenty years. My beginning years in teaching were spent in early childhood education. After completing my MA degree education with a specialization in Reading, I was invited to Taiwan to teach reading skills to Chinese university students. Over the years that I have been here, I have taught undergraduate skills courses such as oral training and composition, the Bible as literature course and literature in film courses, as well as basic courses in teaching English as a foreign language, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. My “loves” are the composition and film courses.


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