Chinese in The Classroom: Initial Findings of The Effects of Four Teaching Methods on Beginner Learners

Caitríona Osborne

Abstract


The following is an article documenting the researcher’s initial findings examining the effects of four different teaching methods on beginner CFL (Chinese as a foreign language) learners in terms of their ability to not only recall and recognize Chinese characters but also to use these characters for understanding and creating texts. The researcher is currently teaching approximately 98 students, aged 14-16, for one academic year. They are divided into four groups which each deploy a different teaching method. Depending on their groups, the participants are learning Chinese via rote memorization, delayed character introduction, character color-coding, and the method currently used in some Irish institutions, which focuses on the reading, writing, speaking and listening of Chinese as a whole. Therefore, participants in the fourth group are taught via integrated learning, without specific focus on the learning of characters as in the case of the other three groups. The outcomes of formative and summative evaluations throughout the year will highlight each group’s progression and therefore the effectiveness of each method, not only in terms of character recall and recognition, but also the use of the language. At the time of writing (November 2016), the researcher has completed approximately ten weeks of teaching (to continue until May 2017). This paper therefore presents a background to the study, a condensed literature review, methodology, preliminary findings and analysis of the first formative evaluation, and a summary of the project thus far, including correlations between theory and practice. So far, results from the first formative evaluation have suggested that the rote memorization group is the most successful in recalling and recognizing characters, whereas the character color-coding group has displayed positive results in terms of character use as well as character recall and recognition. The control group has shown strengths primarily in conducting exercises such as cloze tests and reordering sentences, and the delayed character introduction group has shown positive results in the use of and recognition of Chinese Pinyin, however it remains to be seen how this group will perform once the characters have been introduced. As the data collection will continue until the end of the academic year in May, further results of the remaining formative and summative evaluations will allow for more concrete correlations between teaching methods and learning outcomes to be established.

Keywords


Chinese language; Chinese as a foreign language; Foreign language learning; Language pedagogy; Language learning in schools

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ISSN 2045-4031. University of Central Lancashire 2010-2013.