Digitalisation of Chinese Language Teaching

Approaches to applying ICT into Chinese Studies

21st century the world is a rapidly changing place and ICT is increasingly at the heart of much that is integral to the social, educational, commercial and industrial life of its people. In teaching Chinese, ICT provides diverse learning experience for learners and encourage them to use the language for the purpose of communication. We use ICT to create everyday life scenarios for learners to practice Chinese, so that their Chinese learning is functional and communicative.

In order to broaden the approaches of teaching and assessment, we have implemented ICT in teaching and assessment. Through setting task in real life scenarios, establishing online forum for teachers and students to give feedback to each other, and assisting learners to get feedback of their learning in time, we aim to offer diverse learning environment and experience for our students, and to motivate students learn and use Chinese effectively.

In teaching the speaking and listening of Chinese, our research currently includes:

  • Collecting students' assignments of recording through the internet, and providing prompt and effective feedback to students.
  • Correcting the students' pronunciations by using developed social-networking apps
  • Providing listening material for students to practice their speaking and listening purposefully through internet
  • Using multimedia to guide students discuss topics in Chinese and practice their speaking

In the learning of reading and writing, Chinese character is like the Great Wall of China. Only after climbing through this barrier students start to gain the ability to learn Chinese in an autonomous manner. Worldwide teaching and learning experience shows that learners without the Chinese language environment could suffer from spending too much time on the learning of the handwriting of Chinese characters, which could easily end up with lack of enthusiasm and poor overall language proficiency.

Our research begins with the standpoint that for students of Chinese, learning to write Chinese characters by hand from memory is an inefficient use of resources for communication purpose in this information era. Students should focus on the recognition of Chinese character combined with electronic writing skills to cope with the new type of communication in the modern world. Although electronic technologies have diminished the usefulness of handwriting, its importance remains.

Allowing students to use Chinese input software, the main practicing and communication method is changed from handwriting into typing. Writing Chinese characters is now treated as an essential learning process that function as the reinforcement on the physical appearance of the Chinese characters. Due to the method of using Pinyin to input is to transfer the code of phonetic alphabet in students' mind into the physical appearance of Chinese character, students would have the chance to automatically combine the "two languages" - pinyin and characters together rather than separately at the beginner level which is essential for the purpose of continuous study. In this new approach of teaching and learning, students get to spend more time on the recognition and communication for both written and spoken, which would allow them to reach higher language proficiency as well as communication ability in the overseas environment.

Now we are applying the ICT methods into our teaching and learning in our Chinese related programmes in UCD such as electronic writing, translating and composing by using Internet translation engine, rewriting by using module from online resource, etc. After reviewing these methods, strategies are offered to integrate handwriting skills with the new electronic writing technologies, creating a guidance and instruction in teaching and learning Chinese in a more effective and practical way.