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Novice-High-Level Chinese Character Instructional Design Based on the Task-Based Method
Novice Level Chinese as a Second Language
Chinese Character Teaching
Task-Based Language Teaching
For many learners from Non-Chinese character-using countries, Chinese characters have been one of the major difficulties in learning Chinese. In recent years, researchers and teachers have raised concerns for making character learning more efficient, practical and interesting. Since the 1990s, Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) has gradually become one of the mainstream approaches in second language teaching. TBLT focuses on the authenticity of texts and the communicative process. The design of tasks should be based on the actual needs of learners and real life communication. Many studies on the application of TBLT in Chinese teaching have shown that this method improves the learning process by making it more practical and interesting, therefore, enhances the learning motivation. However, the application of TBLT in teaching Chinese characters is still rare. This study aims to design a Chinese character learning activity that is based both on the principles of TBLT and that of Chinese character teaching. Through the activity, the learners would complete a series of tasks based on authentic texts and communication while paying attention to the structural system of Chinese characters. During the research process, we first conducted a literature review on the approaches and methods of Chinese character teaching, the learning style characteristics of the learners from non-character-using countries, and the application of TBLT. To better understand the status quo of Chinese character teaching, we conducted a classroom observation at the Mandarin Training Center, National Taiwan Normal University, and made an analysis of Chinese character textbooks. Furthermore, we carried out a questionnaire survey among novice-level students from non-character-using countries to understand their attitudes towards learning Chinese characters, their learning strategies, and how difficult some common texts they would encounter in daily life are. We also interviewed Chinese teachers to understand their teaching methods and the problems they encountered in teaching Chinese characters. Then, on the basis of literature review, status quo analysis, and the results of questionnaire survey and interviews, we set out the principles of instructional design and exemplified a teaching plan of task-based Chinese character learning activity. Subsequently, we conducted an experimental teaching to test the effectiveness of the activity, and modified the teaching plan according to the feedback from the teacher and the students who attended the experimental teaching. The findings of this study can be summarized as the following: 1. A task-based Chinese character learning activity can engage the learners in the meaning of communication while making them aware of the structural system of Chinese characters. 2. A task-based Chinese character learning activity provides more opportunities for active learning, helps the learners to identify the structural rules of Chinese characters by themselves or through pair work, and hence increases the interactivity and interest of Chinese characters learning. 3. Task-based activities meet the needs of the learners, introducing useful, authentic texts into learning, and thereby demonstrate the communicative practicality of Chinese characters and enhance their motivation and interest in learning.
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