Developing Communicative Competence in Adult Beginner Learners of Chinese

Authored by: Clare Wright

The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Language Teaching

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138097940
eBook ISBN: 9781315104652
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines a range of teaching methods including task-based approaches, which may be used for introducing Chinese grammar to adult beginner learners of Chinese in foreign language classroom settings (CFL); we discuss their strengths and potential limitations in helping learners establish communicative competence in terms of grammatical knowledge and ability to use that knowledge. We relate these methods to key learning mechanisms argued to underpin the development of communicative competence, drawn from research from general SLA as well as research into the specific challenges in learning Mandarin. We illustrate these theoretical and methodological issues with reference to two case studies based on adult CFL learners, tracking i) beliefs of learners and teachers towards communicative methods in a UK part-time setting, and ii) task effects on development of communicative abilities before and after time spent studying abroad. These findings provide some context to understand the challenges for Western CFL learners moving towards communicative competence.

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