Lily Chen

Dr Lily Chen

Lecturer in Chinese Studies

BA (Hubei, PR China), M.Ed (Bristol), PhD (Durham)

Contact details
Tel: 0114 222 8424
Room: C04


Lily Chen joined the School of East Asian Studies in January 2000 after completing her Ph.D in applied linguistics at the University of Durham. Since coming to Sheffield, she has taught Chinese language, translation studies and TCFL (the Teaching of Chinese as a Foreign Language).

Dr Chen was the founding director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Sheffield and, in 2010, launched the UK’s first MA programme in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. She is currently director of this programme.

Dr Chen has three main areas of research interest. Her principal research focus is in the field of written discourse analysis and media studies. Specifically, she is interested in applying functional linguistic models and critical discourse analysis techniques to the analysis of media texts in order to reveal the influence of different cultural factors upon the media in different societies (specifically Britain and China).

Other research interests include translation studies and the theories, practice and methodology of the Teaching of Chinese as a Foreign Language.


SEAS Research Cluster

East Asian Text and Culture

Dr Chen is currently working on a series of papers which are using the methods of critical discourse analysis to build a model for the systematic analysis of written newspaper texts that enables the social and political factors affecting the way such texts are written to be unpicked. In a previous series of papers, this model was applied first to the comparative analysis of British and Chinese media texts, to look for evidence of how the different social, political and cultural environments in which newspapers were produced was reflected in the language they use; and subsequently to the analysis of Chinese media texts from the present day and from the decade before 2000, to look for linguistic evidence as to whether and if so how Chinese newspapers are changing in response to the changing social environment. The model is now being further refined into an approach to critical analysis of media texts that combines statistical analysis of significant samples of texts with close textual analysis of individual texts to try to draw generalisable conclusions about the relationship between newspapers, their readers, and the societies in which they operate.

Research Supervision

Dr Chen welcomes applications from Ph.D students in the field of discourse analysis and media studies, with particular reference to the media of China and the Far East. She also welcomes applications from students wishing to do Ph.D-level research in TCFL and Translation Studies.
Dr Chen has previously supervised successful Ph.D theses on the written and visual discourse analysis of Chinese historical TV dramas, and on the visual discourse analysis of Japanese television news. She is currently supervising a student working on a Ph.D thesis on the effect of Chinese media language on Sino-Japanese relations.


Dr Chen currently teaches on the following modules

EAS6043/ 6243 Advanced Chinese Translation (MA level)
EAS6165 Teaching Practice (compulsory module for the MA in TCFL)

In the past, Dr Chen has taught on

EAS214/215 Chinese Language III/ IV (reading comprehension and writing)
EAS314/315 Chinese Language V/ VI (reading comprehension and writing)
EAS 6700/6701 Intermediate Chinese Language I/ II (reading comprehension and writing)
EAS 6703/6704 Advanced Chinese Language I/II (reading comprehension and writing)

Teaching Philosophy

There’s an old Chinese saying that suggests it is better to teach a man to fish than give him a few fish to eat (授人以鱼,不如授人以渔). When it comes to teaching, however, my view is that it is better to do both.

Nobody can learn a language, of course, without being given the basic building blocks needed – vocabulary, sounds, written forms, and systems for linking these together to make a meaningful communication. These building blocks you could call the fish. However, if a student is to really progress in a language, they need something more: the ability to think for themselves about the language-learning process, and to develop their own strategies and resources for learning and remembering and producing language.

My philosophy of teaching remains essentially the same whether teaching language, translation or TCFL: I want to give students sufficient input, then help them develop the ability to learn and think for themselves. I give them some fish, but also help them to become fishermen.

Dr Chen has acted as an external examiner at several UK universities, including Imperial College, Heriot-Watt and, currently, Swansea.
She acts as an anonymous peer reviewer for books, manuscripts and journal articles

List of Major Publications

“Evaluation in Media Texts: a cross-cultural linguistic investigation”. Language and Society, Vol 33 no 5 pp 673-702. November 2004.

“Transitivity in Media Texts: negative verbal process sub-functions and narrator bias”. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, Vol 43, pp33-51, 2005.

“Analysing Attitude: positive verbal process sub-functions and media bias”. RASK, an International Journal of Language and Communication,Vol 25, 2007.

“Negatives and positives in the language of politics: Attitudes towards authority in the British and Chinese press.” Journal of Language and Politics, Vol 6.3, 2007.

“Telling the story: Evaluation as an indicator of social and political change in the China Daily. China Information, Vol 26 Issue 3, November 2012

Forthcoming journal articles

“Who speaks and how? Studies of voicing in the China Daily following a decade of change.” Due for publication by the Chinese Journal of Communication.


“Taming Poison Dragons” by Tim Murgatroyd. Translation into Chinese by Lily Chen and Li Xaoxi published by Shanghai Wenyi Press, October 2012

Forthcoming Translations

“Breaking Bamboo” by Tim Murgatroyd. Translation into Chinese by Lily Chen and Li Xaoxi due to be published by Shanghai Wenyi Press in October 2013