UBC Theses and Dissertations
Classroom language activities in a Chinese as a foreign language class of young beginners Huang, Jingzi
The present study is a qualitative one concerning classroom language activities in a foreign language classroom. Studies in language education have in recent years focused on the integration of language and content as one possible way to benefit the students both linguistically and cognitively. Among the research efforts on a content-based approach., Mohan's (1986) Knowledge Framework (KF) provides a systematic way to organize classroom activities combining language and content. However, it is believed by some people that a content-based approach can only apply to learners above the beginning level and that beginners' language classes should be organized solely around language categories. The present study attempts to investigate the feasibility of adopting a content-based approach in a regular Chinese as a foreign language class for young beginners by examining the on-going process of classroom language activities organized around Mohan's KF. The empirical evidence provided by the study indicates that it is feasible to apply a content-based approach in teaching a foreign language to young beginners in normal classroom situations: (1) By engaging in activities organized around the KF, the students in the study used Chinese (though in combination with English) in their interactions, seemed to understand the topics or content of the activities they were engaged in, were involved in certain thinking processes, and represented knowledge structures with graphics; (2) The study shows that classroom activities on a chosen topic can lead to the systematic use of features of language by foreign language students at the beginning level, in the ways indicated by the KF analysis of the topic. In providing an analytical description of the on-going process of classroom language activities around the KF, how the KF was adopted, and how the teacher and the students worked with the KF, the study further supports the argument empirically that the principles underlying the KF apply not only to learners above the beginning level, but also to learners who are beginners; not only to second language learners, but also to foreign language learners. On the basis of the study, suggestions on program improvement and recommendations for further research are considered.
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