L2 acquisition of the progressive marker zai in Mandarin Chinese
Two studies on L2 acquisition of the progressive marker zai in Mandarin Chinese by native English speakers were conducted to investigate the interaction between L1 influence and the congruence of lexical aspect and tense-aspect morphology, as formulated in the aspect hypothesis. The two factors make opposite predictions with respect to the early stage and the acquisition process. The findings from a judgment task and a production task show that the observed pattern is neither predicted by the aspect hypothesis alone nor entirely conditioned by L1 influence. Rather, it is the result of both forces at work. At the early stage zai is associated with activities and accomplishments involving goal or distance. In the acquisition process, both widening and narrowing of predicate types are observed. The findings also show that the L1 effect does not disappear at the same time, but proceeds in stages. In the case of zai marking, the L1 effect weakening process is governed by the strength of event ending that is part of the meaning of the predicates.
Keywords: Mandarin Chinese; aspect; progressive; L1 influence; aspect hypothesis
A study on Chinese-character learning strategies and character learning performance among American learners of Chinese
This study investigated Chinese-character learning strategies employed by 74 first-year American college learners of Chinese. This study attempted to answer the following research questions: (1) what Chinese-character learning strategies are most frequently used by first-year Chinese language learners?; (2) what are the factors underlying the most frequently used strategies?; and (3) are there any linear trends between the most frequently used strategies and character learning performance?. The results found seven most frequently used strategies. Furthermore, four of these strategies were stroke-orthographic-knowledge-based while the remaining three were phonological-semantics-knowledge-based. The stroke-orthographic-knowledge-based strategies accounted for 6.8% of the learners' character learning performance.
Keywords: Chinese Writing; Chinese-Character Learning Strategies; Chinese-Character Learning Performance
When in China, do as the Chinese do? Learning compliment responding in a study abroad program
Recent years have witnessed an increasing number of English-speaking students studying abroad in China. Whether these students can learn and reflect in their behaviors certain uniquely Chinese-style speech acts during their sojourn in China merits investigation. This paper reports on a case study investigating what and how four American university-level students developed knowledge and skills of compliment responding in Mandarin Chinese when they were participating in an 8-week intensive summer language program in Shanghai. Among the four participants, two were from a 2nd-year Mandarin Chinese class and two from a 3rd-year class. The qualitative data were collected from one pre-study questionnaire, weekly semi-structured interviews (a total of 6 for each participant), participants' weekly reflective blogs, and the researcher's observation of participants' social interaction with native speakers of Mandarin Chinese. The results showed that despite their similar academic, linguistic, and cultural background, each participant experienced a heterogeneous and dynamic developmental process and developed different awareness and skills of compliment responding in Mandarin Chinese throughout the study abroad program. The researcher discussed how each participant's agency and individual social interaction with native speakers of Mandarin Chinese as well as local Chinese residents' socialization efforts during the study abroad program intertwiningly shaped what and how the participants learned about Mandarin Chinese compliment responding strategies.
Keywords: study abroad; Mandarin Chinese compliment responding strategies; agency; socialization; social interaction