Understanding Chinese as an object of learning

Jane Orton

'Due to the challenges they encounter…they [undergraduates] lose interest and discontinue. [Those who continue] ultimately hit a bottleneck as they find it more and more difficult to increase their Chinese language level' (Yin, 2003).

'At advanced level they…continue to use vocabulary learned in beginner Chinese' (Xing, 2003).

'In Australian schools, 94% quit Chinese, most citing lack of progress despite their diligence' (Orton, 2010).

Recent research into the learning demands of Chinese shows that the cognitive and motor skills acquired in students’ development of their English (and most other first languages) at home and school, are an inadequate base on which to build L2 Chinese, and the few who do manage to achieve any real proficiency from classroom study usually still carry weaknesses predictable by this lack of foundation. To establish a solid base on which Chinese language learning can build successfully, it has been proposed that further cognitive and sensorimotor skill foundations need to be laid and learning developed from there. In this seminar, analysis of Chinese language as an object of learning requiring development of students’ cognitive base will be presented, and examples of teaching and resources developed by CTTC to address the problem will be introduced, including a series of Units developed with the assistance of the CIW. Both the proposition and the practical work are being very positively received internationally.

About the Speaker

Jane Orton PhD is Director of the Chinese Teacher Training Centre at the University of Melbourne, a research and professional development centre for Chinese language teaching. Her recent publications include: "Comparing teachers' judgments of learners' speech in Chinese as a foreign language", Foreign Language Annals, Vol. 47(3), 2014: 507-526; "Developing Chinese Oral skills - A research base for practice", in Istvan Kesckes, (ed), (2013) Research in Chinese as a Second Language, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013. Jane is a Board member of the Association for Chinese as a Second Language Research (CASLAR) and is on the Editorial Board of the CASLAR Journal.

After the Seminar

The speaker will attend public lecture China & ANU — Diplomats, Adventurers, Scholars after the seminar. To allow for informal discussion, there will be a joint dinner with both speakers after the lecture. The location of the restaurant will be announced at the seminar. All are welcome, though those who attend will need to pay for their own food and drinks. As reservations must be made at the restaurant, please RSVP by noon of the day before the seminar to jasmine.lin@anu.edu.au

The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the China Institute, the Research School of Asia and the Pacific, and the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University.


Jane Orton

Dates & times

Thursday, 23 April 2015

4.00pm - 5.30pm


Seminar Rooms, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU

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