Assessment Item 6: Digital Storytelling Topic Proposal

“Knowledge, then, is experiences and stories, and intelligence is the apt use of experience, and the creation and telling of stories. Memory is memory for stories, and the major processes of memory are the creation, storage, and retrieval of stories.”(Schank & Abelson, 1995, p. 8)

red dragon

Red Dragon Wallpaper Download. (2011)

Proposal Topic:

“追龍 – Chasing the Dragon*
a family’s story of language and identity”

From 2006 to 2011 our family was engaged in learning Chinese in one form or another including language classes, attending a bilingual immersion school and following a university degree – with nearly devastating consequences for one child. This digital story weaves together extracts from blog entries written at the time, digital photos and videos, images of school books and writing and interviews as each child and the family grappled and came to terms with who they were and how language shaped that identity.

Proposed digital tools and/or spaces to be used:

iMovie, Blogger, twitter, facebook, digital photos and videos, memorabilia

Rationale for topic focus

In Asia, particularly Hong Kong, where parenting is a competitive sport, giving your children the opportunity to learn Chinese has become the holy grail of expatriate parenting. Children are enrolled in language programs and immersion schools without much understanding or consideration of the possible consequences.

Research is scant and evidence, mainly anecdotal, focuses on the positive success stories.  A climate of shame, and fear of it reflecting badly on the parent, prevents openness when children do not succeed.

Our family’s story of “chasing the dragon” is one of success, failure and ultimate triumph. In this project, I hope to use storytelling as a way of making sense of events and experiences and communicating this (Botturi, Bramani, & Corbino, 2012) to others in a similar situation.

The affordance of digital storytelling is to incorporate multi semiotic systems that ‘allow for the linking and integration of cognitive, tacit, affective, cultural, personal, graphic and photographic ways of exploring, articulating, expressing and representing sense-making about learning and identity’ (Williams, 2009, cited in Walker, Jameson, & Ryan, 2010, p. 219). It is a warning story and also a story of hope.

Finally, I am considering putting in a proposal to present at a conference on language next year. I would like to use this story as the basis of adding context to academic theory on mother-tongue, language learning and identity so that educators and parents alike not only have an intellectual understanding of the theories but an emotional response through this story to the platitude that “every child is unique”.



* “chasing the dragon” is a Hong Kong slang term referring to inhaling opium vapour – the metaphorical meaning includes the elusive pursuit of an ultimate high.  For the purposes of this story it’s the elusive pursuit of mastering the Chinese language.



Botturi, L., Bramani, C., & Corbino, S. (2012). Finding Your Voice Through Digital Storytelling. TechTrends, 56(3), 10–11. doi:10.1007/s11528-012-0569-1

Red Dragon Wallpaper Download. (2011). Retrieved September 14, 2014, from

Schank, R. C., & Abelson, R. P. (1995). Knowledge and Memory:  The Real Story. In R. S. Wyer (Ed.), Knowledge and Memory: The Real Story (Vol. VIII, pp. 1–85). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved from

Walker, S., Jameson, J., & Ryan, M. (2010). Skills and strategies for e-learning in a participatory culture (Ch. 15). In R. Sharpe, H. Beetham, & S. Freitas (Eds.), Rethinking learning for a digital age: How learners are shaping their own experiences (pp. 212–224). New York, NY: Routledge.




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