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Frontiers of Education in China

ISSN 1673-341X (Print)
ISSN 1673-3533 (Online)
CN 11-5741/G4
Postal Subscription Code 80-979

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, Volume 15 Issue 1

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Special issue editorial
The Teaching and Learning of Chinese as a Second or Foreign Language: The Current Situation and Future Directions
GONG Yang, LAI Chun, Xuesong GAO
Front. Educ. China. 2020, 15 (1): 1-13.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-020-0001-0
Abstract   PDF (203KB)

In this opening commentary, we highlight the development of the teaching and learning of Chinese as a second or foreign language (CSL/CFL), which has attracted much attention from researchers, language educators, and other stakeholders worldwide. To contribute to this ongoing examination and discussion, this special issue documents the collective efforts of scholars in different educational contexts to review six critical issues in teaching and learning CSL/CFL: learning and instruction of reading Chinese as an additional language, Chinese character teaching and learning, learner identity in CSL/CFL education, teaching and learning Chinese through immersion, technology assisted CSL/CFL teaching and learning, and mobile assisted learning CFL. We contend that all efforts to address these critical issues require constant examination to facilitate further development in CSL/CFL education around the world.

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Review article
Review of Research on Learning and Instruction with Specific Reference to Reading Chinese as an Additional Language (1976-2018)
Sihui (Echo) KE
Front. Educ. China. 2020, 15 (1): 14-38.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-020-0002-z
Abstract   PDF (486KB)

This review, which can be seen as a scoping review, highlights 92 empirical studies about the learning and instruction of reading Chinese as an additional language (CAL) published in English between 1976 and 2018. It first identifies and evaluates the trends of CAL reading research over the past four decades, including the developmental trajectory of the field, topics that are hot versus those not-so-hot, populations that are widely studied versus under studied, research methods adopted in the selected studies, and the most widely cited articles. Second, the review examines direct evidence that supports effective practices of CAL reading instruction and explores two tracks of studies: high-evidence versus low-evidence practices. This review concludes with thoughts on the future directions of CAL reading research inspired by trends in the areas of literacy, second language acquisition (SLA), and teaching Chinese as a second/foreign language (TSCL/TCFL). To be specific, there is a need for the field to pay equal attention to learning to read and reading to learn.

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A Systematic Review of the Research on Chinese Character Teaching and Learning
Michael LI
Front. Educ. China. 2020, 15 (1): 39-72.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-020-0003-y
Abstract   PDF (535KB)

Using a thematic analysis methodology, this paper attempts a critical review of published articles on Chinese character teaching and learning in and outside China between 2005 and 2019, highlighting contributions scholars made to the current literature as well as identifying gaps in the research. The analysis reveals that there is a rather large gap in the use of research methodologies between the two sets of articles, with publications in China predominantly adopting non-empirical approaches while most articles published outside China are empirical. Besides, the use of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) in character teaching and learning seems to be a key research topic outside China, while exploring new pedagogical ideas and strategies attracts more interest among scholars in China. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research directions and a call for more diverse research paradigms and mixed-method perspectives.

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Learner Identity in Chinese as a Foreign/Second Language Education: A Critical Review
LI Citing, LI Wendong
Front. Educ. China. 2020, 15 (1): 73-98.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-020-0004-x
Abstract   PDF (2346KB)

This paper reports the results of a review of 33 journal articles chosen from 87 empirical studies on learner identity in Chinese as a foreign/second language (CFL/CSL) education, published during the years 2005–2019. By analyzing the co-occurrence of keywords in these Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) journal articles, this review identifies the theoretical perspectives and topical trends of CFL/CSL education research on learner identity. The review shows that while such post-structuralist theories and notions as capital, identity and investment model have continued to play a predominant role in CFL/CSL identity research, interdisciplinary perspectives seem to also demonstrate their theoretical value and interpretive power. Furthermore, the review found that researchers explored a wide array of topical issues in relation to learner identity involved in the complex linguistic and social ecology of Chinese language learning. The review concludes with suggestions for future projects to consider that expand the thematic and theoretical scope by exploring intersections between different social categories and learner identities in societal contexts.

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Teaching and Learning Chinese through Immersion: A Case Study from the North American Context
Chan LÜ
Front. Educ. China. 2020, 15 (1): 99-141.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-020-0005-9
Abstract   PDF (401KB)

With the promise of achieving bilingualism, biliteracy, and cultural pluralism, Chinese immersion programs for students from kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12) in North America, especially the US, have been proliferating in the past two decades. Research on this rapidly growing population of non-native Chinese learners is also growing. This research synthesis focuses on 35 selected studies published in recent years on Chinese immersion in both Chinese and English language journals and books. The review found that researchers are exploring a wide range of issues with respect to language and literacy development in Chinese immersion programs, including academic achievement in English, language and literacy acquisition in Chinese, instructional strategies and classroom interaction, as well as learners’ language use and its sociolinguistic variations. These studies reflect a growing interest in and demand for learning more about the lesser-researched Chinese foreign language (CFL) learner population, and this review concludes with suggestions for future research on Chinese immersion based on its curricular features as well as specific considerations for conducting research with young, emergent bilingual and biliterate learners.

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A Review of Research on Technology-Assisted Teaching and Learning of Chinese as a Second or Foreign Language from 2008 to 2018
Boning LYU, Xuedan QI
Front. Educ. China. 2020, 15 (1): 142-163.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-020-0006-8
Abstract   PDF (223KB)

More and more studies are examining the use of technology in the teaching of Mandarin Chinese as a second or foreign language (L2 Chinese). The current study involved a systematic review of the literature in the field published outside China from 2008 to 2018. A total of 33 studies met the inclusion criteria. The current review study aimed: (1) to examine the research topics and technologies used in the literature; (2) to identify the benefits of, and challenges involved in, the use of technologies in L2 Chinese teaching and learning; and (3) to suggest implications for practitioners and directions for further research. The review study provides educators and researchers with an overview of recent developments in this field, which could be helpful in informing teaching practice and further research.

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Mobile Assisted Chinese Learning as a Foreign Language: An Overview of Publications between 2007 and 2019
Wenying ZHOU
Front. Educ. China. 2020, 15 (1): 164-181.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-020-0007-7
Abstract   PDF (415KB)

This paper presents a critical overview of studies on mobile assisted language learning (MALL) in teaching Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) during the period 2007-2019. In the review, keyword and reference searches were conducted to identify and select empirical studies during the review period. Thematic and frequency analyses were employed on the data. This identified methodological trends and research outcomes in the reviewed studies. As shown in the results, most of the reviewed studies used qualitative methods to examine the effect of mobile CFL learning on formal learning in higher education settings. These studies document the positive impact that mobile technology has on CFL learning. Their attention is primarily on the use of mobile learning in Chinese vocabulary acquisition, language skill development and mobile seamless learning. Suggestions are provided for further research to support continuous mobile assisted CFL teaching and learning.

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