Supporting Chinese speaking skills online

Stickler, Ursula and Shi, Lijing (2013). Supporting Chinese speaking skills online. System, 41(1) pp. 50–69.



Chinese is considered a difficult language to learn by most Western learners, yet recently more and more people are learning Chinese, and increasingly teaching is delivered online. Due to the nature of Chinese and the complexity of online learning, research has not yet produced sufficient information on students' and teachers' interaction during synchronous online sessions. This exploratory study investigates interaction in synchronous online Chinese tutorials with a focus on the different elements employed by the teacher and students to support online speaking development. It highlights the gaps between teacher intentions and student perceptions of online interactions and describes how skilful use of online technology and multiple modes can bridge these gaps. The study uses a combination of qualitative methods (observation, stimulated recall and thematic analysis) and multimodal transcription supported by some quantitative methods (comparison of frequency).
The findings are interpreted from a socio-cultural perspective, taking into account the differences between the two languages and learning cultures. Recommendations are made to improve the online teaching strategies and task design, specifically for improving Chinese speaking skills in synchronous online environments.

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