Research on the Influence of Affective Factors to Ethnic Chinese Student's Chinese Acquisition: Take the Ethnic Chinese Students in Fiji as an Example

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Abstract

Krashen's affective filter hypothesis plays an important guiding role in the second language teaching and acquisition. Based on the data got from the survey of ethnic Chinese secondary school students in Fiji, this paper selects affective factors such as attitude, motivation and Chinese cultural identity and analyzes the influence of those affective factors to Chinese acquisition. Some teaching strategies are also proposed in order to provide inspiration for Chinese teaching overseas.

Key words: Affective filter hypothesis; Ethnic chínese students; Chinese acquisition; Chinese teaching overseas

INTRODUCTION

According to the Collier's Encyclopedia 6, Chinese language is the principal member of the family of languages. It is also the language of Han Chinese people, which forms one of the two branches of the Sino-Tibetan and Indo-Chinese language. It is spoken by at least ninety percent of more than one billion inhabitants of China and its system of writing has been used for centuries in neighboring countries, such as Japan and Korea, whose languages are unrelated to Chinese. The standardize form of spoken Chinese is known as "Putonghua" or more commonly, Mandarin, which is based on the Beijing dialect. Mandarin is also the official language of the People's Republic of China; therefore mandarin is taught all over China. It is the most common type of Chinese language taught in the world.

The Affective Filter Hypothesis is an important theory in second language acquisition. The affective factors include several aspects such as attitude, motivation and so on which are essential parts influencing second language acquisition. Most of the research focuses on the influence of English acquisition. There still exist many unsolved issues in the field of teaching Chinese as second language. In this paper, we take the ethnic Chinese students in Fiji as an example and try to find out how much affective factors influence the ethnic Chinese student's Chinese acquisition so as to improve methods of Chinese teaching overseas. Suggestions for future Chinese teaching are also proposed.

THEORY FOUNDATION

Early in 1870s, Dulay and Burt had proposed the Affective Filter Hypothesis. Later, Krashen put the theory into five central hypotheses in second language acquisition, namely, the Acquisition-learning Distinction; the Natural Order Hypothesis; the Monitor Hypothesis; the Input Hypothesis and the Affective Filter Hypothesis. Affective Filter prevents language learners from absorbing comprehensible input completely. This comprises of affective factors such as attitudes to language, motivation, self-confidence, anxiety and so on. The learners who have a low filter may lead to a favorable attitudes and self-confidence. Those who have high filters may lead to unfavorable attitudes and high anxiety. The affective filter influences the process of second language learning and acquisition.

RESEARCH PROCEDURE

Two hundred ethnic Chinese secondary school students in Fiji participated in this survey. Ninety percent of the ethnic Chinese students have learnt eight to ten years of how to read and write Chinese. Ten percent of the Chinese have learnt Chinese for eleven to thirteen years. Most of them can speak Cantonese, and are second or third generations of Chinese who have immigrated abroad. Schools allow students to use either simplified Chinese or traditional Chinese. We used the Attitude/ Motivation Test Battery (Gardner, 1985), Abbreviated Multidimensional Acculturation Scale (Zea et al, 2003) and Gardner's other research findings of motivation to design a questionnaire, which included twenty questions relating to the influence of affective factors in Chinese learning and acquisition. Two hundred questionnaires were distributed to ethnic Chinese students. One hundred and eighty seven questionnaires, which were valid for the research, were returned. The content of questionnaire is about the learning attitude, learning motivation, Chinese culture identity and other influencing factors of Chinese learning and acquisition. …