Academic journal article Researchers World

Mandarin as the Chosen Foreign Language Course among Learners of Foreign Languages: A Case Study

Academic journal article Researchers World

Mandarin as the Chosen Foreign Language Course among Learners of Foreign Languages: A Case Study

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Mandarin language course is offered to foreign language students either as a compulsory elective or free elective course at university level. However, students' performance in this course still leaves a lot to be desired as most of them are still unable to communicate well in the language upon completion of the course. Thus, this study intends to identify the perceptions of students enrolling in the course in order to better understand the matter. This quantitative field research employs questionaires and purposive sampling technique as the methods of collecting data. The sampling involves 74 students from UMK who have enrolled in level 2 Mandarin course. The findings show there are important factors attribute to students preference for Mandarin course. The findings demonstrate that the number of students who obtained A Grade in the test at Level 1 was higher than those who obtained lower grades and they found that the test's level of difficulty was rather moderate. Moreover, the majority of the respondents found that learning the Chinese characters was difficult as compared to learning pronunciation in Hanyu Pinyin. Therefore, this study suggests that teachers should opt for a variety of teaching aids in order to draw students' interest in the course.

Keywords: Mandarin language course, perceptions of students, purposive sampling, factors attributable to students preference, test's level of difficulty.

INTRODUCTION:

In Malaysia, a language which is learned and used besides Malay language is considered as a foreign language (Wan Zarina et al., 2007). In this country, a foreign language such as English is also recognized as a second language to the first language, while other foreign languages which are learned besides Malay language and English language are usually known as the third languages. Some of the foreign languages which are commonly introduced and offered as compulsory elective or free elective foreign language courses in Malaysia's Public Higher Educational Institutions are English, Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese, German, Spanish, and Thai languages. In fact, foreign languages such as Arabic, Japanese, French, and German languages were introduced in the national secondary schools as part of the 1996 Education Act. This proves the governments' effort in introducing foreign languages as the languages have their own advantages in the economy, politics, and social culture. There are several policies of the medium of instruction in the Malaysian education system. One of them is to use Malay language, Mandarin language, Tamil language and English language as the medium of instruction in national primary schools, as well as using Malay language and English language as the medium of instruction in national secondary schools. Furthermore, Malay language, Mandarin language, Tamil language, English language, and Arabic language are used as the medium of instruction in the private primary schools while only Malay language, Mandarin language, English language, and Arabic language are used as the medium of instruction in private secondary schools. Mandarin language is only used as the medium of instruction in Chinese private schools in both primary and secondary schools. In the meantime, both public and private higher education institutions in Malaysia may opt to use Malay language, Mandarin language or Arabic language as the medium of instruction (Alis, 2006).

However, sometimes foreign languages and the second language are differentiated from each other more specifically because the role of the second language is bigger in a community as compared to a foreign language which is usually learnt in a foreign language course. For example, English language is commonly learned as the second language in most countries because of its more extensive usage in the international level, but it is only learnt as a foreign language in countries like Japan and France (Ellis, 1995) (Labrie dan Quell, 1997). According to a survey by Eurobarometer in 1994, knowledge of foreign languages among the European societies has increased since 40 years ago. …

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