AAS Annual Meeting

China and Inner Asia Session 619

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Session 619: Learning and Maintaining Advanced Level Linguistic and Cultural Competences in Chinese - Sponsored by CLTA

Organizer: Madeline K. Spring, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

Discussant: Stephen L. Tschudi, University of Hawaii, USA

Increasingly, universities pledge to prepare students for professional and academic careers that involve active global engagement, both linguistically and culturally. Developing and implementing curricula that ensure that students reach and maintain very high levels of competency in Chinese requires significant rethinking of traditional language programs. This panel focuses on three different models for incorporating innovations in curricular design: a thematically-structured, intensive summer experience in the Field Studies Program run through Hamilton College; content-based course design in fourth-year post-advanced courses and Text Mode Theory-based course design in online courses, both at the University of Hawai'i; and a multidisciplinary, multi-year program involving both stateside and in-country intensive study in the Chinese Language Flagship at Arizona State University. Panelists will present highlights of each program’s focus and design, and the panel discussant will address commonalities and distinctions of each program, with suggestions for how specific features of each program might be replicated at other colleges and universities. Following these comments by the discussant, the panel welcomes questions and discussion from the audience.

Rural Education in China: Opportunities for Onsite Advanced Language and Culture Training
Hong Gang Jin, Hamilton College, USA

This presentation introduces a new model of overseas advanced language and culture training at Associated Colleges in China (ACC), a study abroad program administered by Hamilton College. Using rural education as a theme, the Field Studies Program is able to help 90% of participants to move from advanced low to advanced high levels within 7 weeks of overseas experience. The results are achieved through a systematically designed total immersion curriculum: 1. Thematically designed language and culture instruction: intensive instruction on topics of China's education system, pressing issues of rural education in China, and comparative education between China and the US; 2. Real world language use before field trips: multiple teaching practica in local schools and presentations and discussions in local communities; 3. Formal presentations and culture experience during field trips: participants take field trips to three sites in different parts of China to offer day camps in rural schools and present a 20 minute presentation in Chinese to Chinese educators at an Education conference. The results of the program in terms of gains in advanced language proficiency and culture competency will be analyzed and reported to show that a well-designed field experience is one of the most efficient way to train advanced speakers.

Content in Advanced Core Courses: Addressing Demonstrated Student Needs
Song Jiang, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

Needs analysis is a useful tool to begin meeting the challenge of designing a suitable Chinese language course to meet the diverse needs of learners at the fourth year (post-advanced) university level. Results of one needs analysis revealed that, after three or more years’ intensive preparation in basic language knowledge and skills, fourth and fifth year students expect a shift in the classroom from gaining language knowledge to developing their ability for critical thought, free expression in the target language, and conducting major-related research in Chinese language. This presentation will outline an approach to teaching Chinese at the post-advanced level, and introduce teaching materials designed to address the needs of such learners. The course discussed in this paper focuses on readings in content-based materials adapted from general and academic periodicals published in China and the world, complemented by instruction in reading strategies. The panelist argues that this approach best meets the interests and needs of students from diverse backgrounds. Authentic listening materials from television, radio, and university lectures both enliven the readings and improve students’ listening skills. Group discussion and class presentations reinforce both comprehension and application of the linguistic and cultural knowledge acquired through reading and listening exercises. Furthermore, domain-specific composition assignments on issues related to students’ majors foster students’ abilities in critical thought and expression in Chinese, while serving as a bridge to academic writing in Chinese, which is an important pedagogical objective in foreign language study for post-advanced learners.

Advanced Reading and Writing Curriculum Development Using Text Typology and ILR Skill Levels
Haidan Wang, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

Online learning has progressed tremendously over the past few years. At the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the development of online courses has broadened opportunity in two senses: the language program has been able to expand its instructional reach, and individual students have been able to further their language training by enrolling in courses unavailable to them locally. Two existing intermediate/advanced Chinese online courses are consistently heavily subscribed. As a consequence, the need for advanced and post-advanced Chinese online courses among regular students as well as in-service professionals has become increasingly evident. This paper will feature “Advanced Chinese Reading and Writing,” a series of two newly-designed online courses developed in response to this need. The panelist will first present the results of the needs analysis and the consequent course goals and objectives. Then she will introduce Text Mode Theory, the pedagogical framework adopted in this course, and how this theory is incorporated into the courses. The structure for each lesson, featuring main text, tutorials and corresponding activities, will be detailed using real examples from the course website, which is hosted using the University of Hawai‘i National Foreign Languages Resource Center’s course management software, BRIX. By presenting this course as an example, the panelist intends to illustrate tools and procedures for developing advanced online language courses, to offer a model for implementing materials design for web-based language instruction, to explore methods of incorporating contemporary pedagogical theories into online teaching environments, and to provide some insights on future directions for online language course development.

ASU’s Chinese Language Flagship: Innovation and Collaboration
Madeline K. Spring, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

Arizona State University’s Chinese Flagship offers a comprehensive approach to guiding students toward superior level linguistic and cultural proficiencies through a multi-year program that combines content instruction in Chinese with evidence-based learning. A Capstone Year in China includes one semester of direct enrollment at Nanjing University followed by a four to six month structured internship that pertains to each student’s academic domain. The multidisciplinary curriculum at ASU, which helps prepare students for their Capstone experience, involves courses across campus, e.g., Chinese Economics, Religions, History, Geography, Journalism, Media Studies, Linguistics, and Literature. Each course involves extensive writing in Chinese (e.g., weekly reflective essays, term papers, etc.), focused discussions and debates, and frequent student projects that integrate critical thinking with interpretive skills so that students become adept at presenting and defending intellectual arguments and negotiating meaning both orally and in writing. Collaboration is also critical in this program, both among students and also among faculty at the ASU campus and beyond, especially with colleagues at other Chinese Flagships Centers and Programs nationally and internationally. This paper will present an overview of the ASU Flagship curriculum and will also discuss issues relating to language maintenance for students returning from the year in China. Details of curricular planning, teacher collaboration, and assessment, as well as a broader perspective on institutional challenges for Flagship programs, will also be addressed.