Chinese syntactic systems and second language acquisition: Approaches to the teaching of Chinese as a second language.
Committee ChairDemers, Richard A.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe purpose of this dissertation is to examine the relation between the teaching of Chinese syntax and the acquisition process by adult learners based on multitheoretical and multimethodological approaches. Through a brief review of the features of Chinese syntax and a comparative study of three different syntactic analytic systems, a Chinese linguistic background is provided. A further study of pedagogical Chinese syntax was conducted by investigating the teaching materials and methods introduced in three commonly used Chinese textbooks. Based on the Chinese linguistic and pedagogical background, the surveys were designed to probe the learners' acquisition process of Chinese syntax. The studies involved a total of 73 subjects who are native English speakers learning Chinese at different universities. It has been found that: (1) adult learners' acquisition order and rate are closely related to their cognitive skills; (2) the scope of acquisition in adults is subject to time limitations; (3) analysis & analogy are the main methods used by adult learners in the acquisition of syntax; (4) the learning environment & the knowledge of the target syntax by adult learners are not required to be situationally linked; (5) the process of syntactic transfer is incomplete among adult learners due to the lack of target language input; (6) the general failure rate in L2 acquisition partially associates with the lack of the fully functional innate language faculty; (7) the adult learners' common mistakes in syntactic acquisition process are predictable due to syntactic transfer and the influences from L1; (8) different teaching methods result in different strengths in students; (9) there is a gap between grammatical competence & communicative competence in the adult learners' acquisition process. According to those features, I proposed nine pedagogical principles for the Chinese syntax teaching, and a case study of teaching Chinese structures with three post-verbal complements was conducted in order to have a field-test. The discussion in this dissertation has partially confirmed the claim made by psycho-linguistic researchers that learning a second language is a complex process. There is a hierarchical order in acquiring language competence, and the acquisition of hierarchically ordered skills requires integrated approaches.
Degree ProgramEast Asian Studies