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Learning Chinese in Our Own Way-Adapting Second Language Education Based on Age and Ethnicity

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  1. Learning Chinese in Our Own Way-Adapting Second Language Education Based on Age and Ethnicity Jia Li MIT Academy, CA

  2. Engaging students is critical in Chinese/Mandarin as a Second Language (CSL) education. Paradoxically, there is no one-size-fits-all/ silver bullet for effective CSL teaching.

  3. The Goal of this Study In this study, I will report my observations and insights in teaching CSL in highly diverse demographic groups.

  4. A comparative study, including both middle school students and high school students, was conducted in a charter school in Northern California with highly diverse demographic groups.

  5. MIT Academy Background • Mare Island Technology Academy is Vallejo's first charter school. The school opened in 1999. The student population includes: 14.4% Filipino, 46% Hispanic, 22% African American, 12.2% White, and 5 % other ethnic groups. • 2009-2010 is the fifth year the Chinese program has been operating under a state grant. There were 60 students in 2008, when I began instructing the program, and 48 students in 2009. There are 120 students taking Chinese language class and 26 students taking Chinese cultural class in 2010. The Chinese language and culture classes combined population includes: 45% Hispanic, 26 % African American, 25% Filipino, and 4% White.

  6. 30 high school students & 30 middle school students attending Mare Island Technology Academy participated in this study

  7. High School Students: The total high school students sample is 30: 15 male 15 female 10 are Latino 10 are African- American 10 are Filipino

  8. Middle School Students: The total middle school students sample is 30 15 male 15 female 10 are Latino 10 are African- American 10 are Filipino .

  9. The Differences of Learning Techniques based on Age and Ethnicity Motivation: engaging students is one of the most important issues in CSL education, but there is no single, universal method to engage students.

  10. Why do students want to learn Chinese? Among 60 participating students: 10 of them (6 middle school/4 high school) said because they were put in Chinese class without another option. Among them, there are 4 African- Americans, 4 Latinos, and 2 Filipinos. 7 of them said they would change to Spanish class if given the opportunity.

  11. Why do students want to learn Chinese? 9 students (3 middle school/6 high school) said they took Chinese class because they have to meet the foreign language requirement to graduate. Among them, there are 4 African- Americans, 4 Latinos, and 1 Filipinos.

  12. Why do students want to learn Chinese? 10 students (4 middle school/6 high school) said that the reason they chose Chinese class is to give them a better future. Among them, there are 1 African- Americans, 2 Latinos, and 7 Filipinos.

  13. Why do students want to learn Chinese? 29 students (13 middle school/16 high school) said they want to learn Chinese because they like the Chinese teacher and want to eat Chinese food. Among them, there are 11 African-Americans, 7 Latinos, and 10 Filipinos.

  14. Based on the survey, what we can assume? • Filipino students are easily engaged in learning Chinese. • Latino and African-American students are paying more attention to the Chinese culture and Chinese teacher. • Compared to high school students, middle school students have less interest and motivation to engage in learning Chinese.

  15. Based on the survey, what we can learn? • Different ethnic groups need different motivation methods. • Students’ ages will impact the way they receive a teacher’s teaching methods. • At MIT Academy, the focus is on creating a Chinese program to engage more Latino and African-American students in learning the Chinese language.

  16. Differences of various education methods in response to age and ethnicity The study evaluates the effectiveness of multiple teaching techniques, including: peer-oriented learning kinetic learning project based learning use of video/audio in the classroom with students of various ages and demographic groups. I found that there are striking differences in the preferred teaching styles with regard to the age and ethnicity of the students.

  17. Example: Teaching Numbers: • Eye massage. • Body exercises. • Writing activity. • Based on the survey, both middle school students and high school students love to learn Chinese numbers from kinetic teaching style. “Chinese characters are too hard to learn, however, eye massage is fun……I finally got these numbers.”-----Lucia, 16, Latino

  18. Eye Massage

  19. Eye Massage

  20. Eye Massage Video

  21. Based on the survey, we found: Middle school students used: peer-oriented learning (11 students) group activity (13 students) individual learning (4 students) other learning methods (2 students) However, 12 of them said they want to do more Chinese teaching through video projects; however, they don’t know how to proceed for lack of computer technology skills. High school students used: kinetic learning (9 students) project based learning (8 students) video/audio in the classroom (13 students)

  22. Based on the survey • Both high school students and middle school students who are Latino would like to study in groups. • African-American students prefer to study individually. • Filipino students prefer to study both in group and individually.

  23. Suggestions on Adapting Popular Chinese Textbooks High school students: 20 out of 30 students wrote that they are interested in learning Nihao. 3 out of 30 want to study Integrated Chinese. 7 out of 30 chose neither of them. Middle school students: 25 out of 30 students wrote that they are interested in learning Nihao. 0 out of 30 want to study Integrated Chinese. 5 out of 30 chose neither of them.

  24. Current Textbooks for MIT • High school Mandarin 1: Nihao • Middle school Mandarin 1*: Nihao • High school Mandarin 2&3: Integrated Chinese *There is no Mandarin 2 level class for middle school students.

  25. Before Nihao Before Nihao, we tried Chinese Link. Both students and parents kept complaining: “Chinese is too hard! Why we need to learn Chinese? We will transfer to Spanish class next semester…… Spanish textbook is colorful, and fun……”

  26. Integrated Chinese • After one year of teaching Chinese Link, I started to teach Integrated Chinese for both middle school and high school Mandarin 1 students. • After one month trying, we did a survey about what do you think about IC textbook? • 88% of high school students, 95% of middle school students didn’t like IC textbook.

  27. They wrote: • Why are there so many characters for lesson 1? • Why couldn’t we read pinyin? • Why are the pictures are so ugly? • Why is Chinese grammar so boring?

  28. Nihao • 90% students : “Nihao is easy to learn. The dialogue is short, easy. The pictures are cute. ” • 10% students: Need more activities, games. High school students take less time to get teaching objects compared to middle school students.

  29. Learning Chinese in Our Own Way-Mix Different Textbooks • Integrated Chinese Grammar Organization. • Nihao Context, Activity. • Mix Chinese culture into each lesson. • Create diverse teaching materials based on students’ ages and ethnic groups. • Choose different teaching methods -peer-oriented learning, kinetic learning, project based learning, and the usage of video/audio with different ages and demographic groups.

  30. Example 1. 数字文化(kinetic learning for both middle and high school students. Drama presentation for high school) 2.Question word: 吗 你爱Mr. Beland吗? 是,我很爱他。 不,我不爱他。 我不知道。 Middle school: Group performance. High school: Kinetic, video/audio, drama

  31. Get more students to learn Chinese? Big challenge for Chinese teacher: Energy!!! Enthusiasm!!! =Tired!!! 

  32. Future Work Examination of the difference between Learning Chinese as a Second/ Foreign Language and Leaning Spanish as a Second/Foreign Language. For students whosefirst languages are Spanish, Filipino. 

  33. Reference • Introduction to the Education of Chinese as a Second Language. Ed. LIU Xun. Beijing: Beijing Language and Culture University Press, 2007. 37. • Kramsch, C. 1994. Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. • Chen Jianming, Aspects of Languages and Cultures. Ed. Hu Wengzhong. Culture and Practicality, 1994, Beijing, Foreign Language Teaching and Study Publishing House. • ZHANG Y.J. “The History of Learning Chinese as a Foreign Language.” Introduction to Learning Chinese as a Foreign Language. Ed. LIU Xun. Beijing: Beijing Language and Culture University Press, 1997. 69.

  34. Questions/Comments: I invite the audience for any questions or comments from my presentation. Jia Li jialiwang@gmail.com