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Application of Task-based Approach to a Chinese Oral Course—in the case of a Secondary School in Singapore
Chinese education in Singapore
teaching of Chinese as a second language
class design for oral courses
Earlier discussion of Singapore’s Chinese socio-linguistic environment acknowledges its stark difference from other Chinese-majority counterparts and non-Chinese nation states, whereby Chinese in Singapore is not positioned as a first language nor a foreign language. Over the last forty years of educational reform, Chinese teaching in Singapore has been positioned as ‘teaching of Chinese as a second language’. In order to keep up with the evolving linguistic landscape, the 2011 Chinese Language (Secondary) Syllabus, developed by Curriculum Planning and Development, continues to highlight the development of communicative competence, humanistic accomplishment and general ability as part of its curriculum goals, and significantly raises ‘communicative competence’ to its core focus. The paper examines the development of Chinese education in Singapore and how the teaching of oral skills is designed in the current syllabus, and it is found that the oral content in the textbooks is still lacking in communicative nature. The paper attempts to discuss characteristics of Singapore’s Chinese oral syllabus at the secondary level and seeks to apply the principles of task-based approach (TBA) to the design of a Chinese oral course in Singapore. A learner questionnaire and post-course discourse analysis are put in place to better understand how learners use communicative strategies in the Chinese course design based on TBA approach. Analysis of the results suggest that students in the lower secondary class exhibits (1) more use of negotiation of meaning in the second lesson where the course was re-designed; (2) an improvement in providing substantial examples; (3) an ability to differentiate views when relating to one’s own experience. For the higher secondary class, there is (1) increased familiarity with the usage of meaning negotiation and expression of disagreement; (2) better ability to summarize others’ viewpoints with the use of real examples; (3) occurrence of self-repair and stronger response awareness. It is found that learners give positive feedback about the designed course, especially in terms of practical use, interactivity, interest, and learning objectives.
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