Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Comparing Teachers' Judgments of Learners' Speech in Chinese as a Foreign Language

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Comparing Teachers' Judgments of Learners' Speech in Chinese as a Foreign Language

Article excerpt

Abstract: Pedagogical norms for Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) shared by teachers, curriculum writers, and resource designers inside and outside of Chinese societies are yet to be established. To initiate and inform dialogue within the CFL community over shared expectations of learners, this study compared the judgments of students' oral presentations rendered by three groups of teachers: first language (L1) teachers of Chinese in China, L1 teachers of Chinese in Australia, and second language (L2) teachers of Chinese in Australia, where Chinese has been taught in K-16 schools for more than 25 years. The aim was to ascertain the nature and range of features that the three groups noticed and found acceptable and to identify differences in perspectives, including those that were tacitly understood and those that were overtly stated. Results showed considerable common ground on which to create norms for the growing number of CFL programs. However, the data also revealed strong differences between L1 teachers and L2 teachers on the nature of the speaker-audience relationship being sought, suggesting deeper conceptual differences along L1-L2 lines about this particular aspect of students' oral communication. These findings call for committed intercultural dialogue over "appropriate meaning schemata for FL [foreign language] learners" (Kramsch, 2002) as well as further research.

Key words: Chinese (Mandarin), appropriate behavior in L2, high school oral profi- ciency, pedagogical norm, teacher judgments

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Introduction

Because the volume and complexity of unrestricted natural language is more than second language (L2) learners can deal with all at once in either classroom or real- world settings, language educators make choices on their behalf, selecting and ordering a correct but reduced set of language elements to introduce at each particular stage along the proficiency scale. These choices are made with respect to all the components of language-phonology, morphology, vocabulary, syntax, discourse, pragmatics, and nonverbal features-and the results provide the foundation for curriculum development as well as resource selection and assessment. Although Chinese as a second language has been taught in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools for more than 25 years in Australia, Chinese is a relatively new addition to the curriculum in Western countries, and when compared to European languages and to Japanese it is still relatively underdeveloped; that is, there is a shortage of elaborated curricula, resources, pedagog- ical content knowledge, and documented teaching practices that address the very par- ticular linguistic and learning demands the language makes on students. Similarly, there is a lack of information on assessment prac- tices and procedures as well as assessment protocols. Moreover, research into the effi- cacy of high-leverage teaching and learning strategies for learners of Chinese is compar- atively embryonic, especially with respect to primary and secondary students. To initiate and inform dialogue within the Chinese lan- guage teaching (CLT) community over shared learner expectations, this study com- pared the judgments of students' oral pre- sentations rendered by three groups of teachers: first language (L1) teachers of Chi- nese in China, L1 teachers of Chinese in Australia, and an L2 Chinese teacher group in Australia. The aim was to ascertain the nature and range of features that the three groups noticed and found acceptable as well as to identify differences in perspective, in- cluding those that are tacitly understood as well as those that are overtly stated.

Literature Review

As the teaching of Chinese as a foreign lan- guage (CFL) continues to grow, there is a need to establish a solid, specifically Chinese foundation that can be shared by learners, teachers, resource designers, curriculum writers, and assessors as well as by other stakeholders. …

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