Interaction patterns in synchronous Chinese tutorials

Shi, Lijing and Stickler, Ursula (2018). Interaction patterns in synchronous Chinese tutorials. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 12(1) pp. 6–23.



Speaking in Chinese is problematic for all learners, particularly for beginners and more so during online interaction. Despite the fact that interaction has been identified as crucial for the development of speaking skills, it can be hindered by students’ lack of language competence or their anxiety. Teacher-centred practices in tutorials can further limit the opportunity for learners to speak. In an attempt to identify the best ways of supporting online speaking practice, this research explores the interaction patterns between the learners and teachers of Chinese during online synchronous tutorials. Five recordings of Beginners’ online Chinese tutorials in small groups have been analysed using social network analysis. The fact that teaching content and tasks remain similar across all instances, allows the researchers to compare interaction patterns and to find the deciding factors in forming interaction patterns. All the following can play a role: language, skills level, task, and individual teacher style. The findings reveal common practices in the teaching of Chinese speaking skills; and can inform training for online language teachers, enhancing their ability to modify interaction patterns and scaffold students’ speaking online.

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