Host Communication Competence and Mass Media Use among a Sample of Chinese ESL Students
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This qualitative study investigated Chinese ESL students’ use of host mass media and how such use enabled them to acquire host communication competence and acculturation from their perspective. It was grounded on Kim’s theory of communication and cross-cultural adaptation and the uses and gratifications theory, and employed a phenomenography approach. Nine participants at a university in Ontario were involved in this study. Data obtained from media use logs, think-aloud protocols, and follow-up interviews provided a fairly far-reaching and detailed description of the participants’ uses, reasoning, and effects of using host mass media. The analysis of data illustrated that these students used a variety of media as sources of information, language acquisition, culture learning, entertainment, and communication. Findings suggest that host mass media were the major influence on these students’ acquisition of host communication competence, perceptions of and acculturation to Canada. Their reliance on mass communication went into the later years of their acculturation process, and complemented their language and culture learning, which was somewhat limited through insufficient or reluctant participation in host interpersonal communication. Host communication competence was a primary factor that influenced their selection and use of host mass media, but it was not the only decisive factor relevant to their degree of acculturation. Individual characteristics, the social and cultural environment in Canada were also found to have significant impact on their acculturation process and outcomes. It is expected that the findings can assist colleges and universities in designing effective programs based on these students’ needs and characteristics, thus enabling them to achieve their academic and professional goals.