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Title: Teaching and learning Chiense as a foreign language in the United States: To delay or not to delay the character introduction

Author: Lijuan Ye

Degree and Year: Doctor of Philosophy,George State University, 2011. 

Abstract: The study explored whether or not to delay introducing Chinese characters as part of first year Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) courses in post-secondary institutions in the U.S. Topics investigated: a) timing structures of current CFL programs in the U.S.; b) CFL teachers' and students’ beliefs and rationales of an appropriate timing to introduce characters; c) CFL teachers' and students'beliefs about the importance and difficulty of different Chinese language skills; and d) CFL teachers’ and students’ beliefs about the requirement of handwriting in beginninglevel CFL courses. Data were collected through a large-scale online student survey with 914 students and a large-scale online teacher survey with 192 teachers. At the same time, a total of 21 students and five teachers from a delayed character introduction (DCI) program and an immediate character introduction (ICI) program were interviewed. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyze the data. Results indicate that the majority of CFL programs did not delay teaching characters; most of teachers and students believed that speaking and listening were the most important skills and reading and especially writing characters were the most difficult skills; and most of teachers and students did not favor alternative methods to replace the handwriting of characters even though they considered handwriting to be the most difficult skill. With few studies carried out to investigate the timing issue of character aching,results from the study provided foundational knowledge for CFL educators to better understand CFL teaching and learning in general, along with the teaching and learning of written Chinese characters, in particular.

Keyword: Chinese; Chinese characters; Character teaching; Chinese as a foreign language (CFL); Teacher beliefs; Student beliefs; Delayed Character Introduction (DCI); Immediate Character Introduction (ICI)

URL: http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1021&context=alesl_diss

 

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Title: A Study of L2 Chinese Learners' Motivational Self System

Author: Yang Liu

Degree and Year: Doctor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2014

Abstract: The present study investigated the L2 Motivational Self System formulated by Dörnyei (2005) in the context of L2 Chinese teaching and learning. One hundred and thirty American university L2 Chinese learners of various levels participated in the study. The study adopted a mixed-methods approach, using a sequential mixed-methods strategy (a paper-based survey followed by individual interviews). The study not only generated results that were comparable to the results of previous studies of the L2 self-system conducted in EFL contexts, but also explored the relationship between theoretical components of the L2 self-system, compared the motivational make-up of L2 Chinese learners of different levels, and examined the interactions between L2 Chinese learners' self-perceived and desired identities and their L2 Chinese learning motivation. The findings of the current study highlight the necessity, feasibility, and benefits of a re-interpretation of L2 motivation from a self perspective, and lead to significant pedagogical implications that can be utilized to enhance the L2 Chinese teaching and learning practices. 

URL: http://search.proquest.com/docview/1541541052

 

 

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Title: The Study of Modern Chinese Core Vocabulary for the Second Language Acquisition

Author: Yinghua Zhai

Degree and Year: Doctor of Philosophy, Wuhan University 2012

Abstract: Core vocabulary is the main component of speech in a language. It is the most basic,most widely used group of words in the process of information exchange. In a language of diverging linguistic fields and differing linguistic styles, these words are the common core of the vocabulary, may it be common speech or the literary form. Therefore, they have rightfully become the core of the Lexical Semantics System. From a rhetorical point of view, the core vocabulary is a set of words completely comprehensible and functional for an adult native speaker of a specific language. If we were to go beyond the realm of cultural communication, it can be said that to an extent, core vocabulary is the "universal vocabulary" of a certain language. Whereas, on the basis of the sequences in second language acquisition, core vocabulary is the set of words that are suitable for the beginners level while studying a foreign language. It is the estimated limit of words to be learned for basic, everyday communication. 

There is no clear boundary between the core vocabulary and the non-core vocabulary. Both have an intermediary relation with each other. The integral vocabulary system is the gradual transition of the core vocabulary to the non-core vocabulary. This is why the core vocabulary is divided into two categories, viz. Classic category and Marginal category. Hence, it is more apt to describe the core vocabulary in terms of degree of affinity towards the core of a language.

The core vocabulary list for Teaching Chinese as a Second Language has been constructed on the basis of Modern Chinese Core Vocabulary Index. The target of this lexicon is any beginner learner for whom Chinese is a second language. Apart from this, it is essential to consider the factors like age, nationality, social status, objective of learning, learning atmosphere (target language country or non-target language country), and learning style (Standard School training or self-study) of the student, for the extensive applicability and suitability of the core vocabulary.

In a Zipfian distribution, the most common item has twice as many occurrences as the second most common, three times as many as the third, a hundred times as many as the hundredth, a thousand times as many as the thousandth, and a million times as many as the millionth. This shows that as long as one masters a small proportion of the most frequent terminologies in a language, it is possible to understand a considerable amount of the content of a language. Modern Chinese Vocabulary Distribution law indicates that the appropriate value of core vocabulary for Modern Chinese is 3000 terminologies. It covers about 75% of the total corpus. Hereafter, the growth of the integral language coverage frequency decelerates remarkably.

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Title: Second Language Acquisition of Mandarin Aspect Markers by Native Swedish Adults

Author: Luying Wang

Degree and Year: Doctor of Philosophy, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, 2012.

Abstract: This experimental study investigates the second language acquisition of the four Mandarin aspect markers -le, -guo, -zhe, and zai- by native Swedish university students enrolled in Chinese language courses in Sweden. The main points of inquiry are acquisition order, the Aspect Hypothesis, the Distributional Bias Hypothesis, and the Prototype Model. The study contains a cross-sectional study and a longitudinal study. Both written and spoken data are collected. The tasks in the cross-sectional study include film-retelling, picture-retelling, grammaticality judgment, fill-in-the-blank questions and comprehension. The longitudinal study includes written data produced by seven students in their tri-monthly journal. The study shows that perfective markers are produced before imperfective markers. The results of the experiments are consistent with the Aspect Hypothesis. The Distributional Bias Hypothesis can account for most of the Aspect Hypothesis but there are exceptions that indicate that other factors could also influence the acquisition process, such as L1 transfer. The Prototype Model cannot be conclusively proven. Apart from contributing to second-language acquisition theories on cross-linguistic tense-aspect morphology, this study can provide empirical evidence with significant pedagogical implications for the second-language learning classroom.

Keyword: Second language acquisition, Mandarin, Swedish, aspect-tense morphology,aspect marker, grammatical aspect, lexical aspect, acquisition order, the Aspect Hypothesis, the Distributional Bias Hypothesis, the Prototype Model.

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Title: Developmental stages in reading Chinese as a second language

Author: Kim Suna-A

Degree and Year: Doctor of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 2010. 

Abstract:

This dissertation investigated whether adult second language (L2) learners of Chinese go through stages when learning to read Chinese characters. A study conducted with preschoolers to 6th graders in China (Chen, 2004) had demonstrated that children whose native language (L1) is Chinese pass through three reading stages (i.e., visual, phonetic, and orthographic) when they learn to read Chinese. These stages are interpreted as analogous to the developmental stages of L1 English readers (i.e., logographic, alphabetic, and orthographic) posited by Ehri (1991).

The two research questions of this study are as follows: (a) Do adult L2 learners of Chinese undergo stages in learning to read Chinese? (b) If so, do the reading stages of adult L2 learners parallel those of L1 Chinesechildren? These questions were examined by conducting two computer-based experiments with 70 college students enrolled in beginning/intermediate Chinese classes in a major US university. In experiment 1, participants learned to read 18 novel Chinese characters divided into three levels of visual distinctiveness of characters: distinctive, normal, and similar sets. In the distinctive set, individual strokes of characters were enhanced to make the characters visually distinctive. The normal set consisted of normal characters, and the similar set consisted of character pairs whose members were visually similar to each other. Experiment 2 required participants to learn 18 new Chinese characters that belong to three different levels of phonetic family consistency: consistent, semi-consistent, and inconsistent.

Logit mixed modeling (Jaeger, 2008) analysis of the data revealed effects of individual participants' working memory spans in experiment 1, such that subjects who had higher working memory spans were better able to learn characters. In experiment 2, an interaction effect between character knowledge and phonetic consistency was found, in which subjects who knew more characters learned the consistent families better than the semi-consistent or the inconsistent families.

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