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E. Shepherd: Building the Culture of Your Chinese Program: Optimal Learning Experiences and Smooth Vertical Articulation (A3)
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E. Shepherd: Building the Culture of Your Chinese Program: Optimal Learning Experiences and Smooth Vertical Articulation (A3)


K–16 articulation for Chinese language programming is becoming critical as more K–12 students choose to learn Chinese in recent years. Participants in this session, both administrators and …

K–16 articulation for Chinese language programming is becoming critical as more K–12 students choose to learn Chinese in recent years. Participants in this session, both administrators and
teachers of Chinese, will gain knowledge and skills in developing programs that foster K–16 Chinese articulation. Co-presenter Kun Shi will present the urgent need for administrators to support teachers and focus on K–16 articulation in order to sustain program development, based
on his experience working with Florida and Ohio schools. Dr. Shepherd will explore ways to build the culture of Chinese programs in ways that create optimal learning experiences for American learners while they coordinate instruction in a manner that allows for smooth K–16 articulation. Techniques for structuring learning experiences that integrate key factors impacting vertical articulation will be shared through discussion and video, including embedding language in culture, eliciting increasingly sophisticated learner performance, shifting from texts to
performance in context, generating intrinsic motivation, fostering varied feedback, and showing learners how to efficiently learn Chinese as a foreign language.

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  • 1. Building the Culture of Your Chinese Program:Optimal Learning Experiences and Smooth K-16 Vertical Articulation Eric Shepherd University of South Florida
  • 2. A Typical Example Conversation with a 3rd year high school Chinese student Me: 您贵姓? Student: 。。。。(no response) Me: 你叫什么名字? Student: 。。。(no response) Me: 你叫什么名字? Student: (long delay) “Oh, my name. 我的名字Megan.”
  • 3. Another Typical Scenario Have developed rudimentary character recognition skills (not reading skills) and rudimentary understandings of Chinese grammar but have no awareness of what (how bad) they sound in Chinese and no ability to use what they have learned Have to return to beginning to “un-learn” what they have “learned”-must develop concept of tones and ability to accurately produce them, must learn how to use everything that they “learned” previously, must “un-learn” American ways they have been using Chinese
  • 4. The Result Students get frustrated and quit studying Chinese Students get frustrated with high school teacher for not teaching them real skills and spend significant extra time outside of class struggling to learn what they thought they already knew “Why didn’t she teach me anything?”
  • 5. Vertical Articulation Even after investing significant amounts of time studying in organized Chinese programs a large number of current high school students still lack usable skills IN Chinese (linguistic or cultural) Most students who have had Chinese in high school, when coming into the USF Chinese program, test into Chinese I, which is an introductory course designed for students with zero background Those who have developed some introductory skills have significant adaptation problems because they have to un-learn or re-learn most of what they have learned
  • 6. The Disconnect There is significant gap between what is happening in at the K-12 level and what is happening in the USF Chinese program (university level) Not an isolated problem Observed same learner characteristics in Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Maryland, Kansas, Texas, and California K-12 settings
  • 7. Learners Who Think They Know Chinese Often Lack… Ability to use Chinese autonomously Metacognitive awareness of their own production of Chinese Understanding and awareness of Chinese behavioral culture Understanding and awareness of Chinese interaction patterns/ways of viewing the world (cognitive orientations) Ability to establish intentions acceptable in Chinese culture Listening comprehension skills Ability to read in Chinese Ability to write at more than the simple sentence level (familiarity with Chinese discourse norms) Ability to sustain attention in Chinese Effective study habits associated with Chinese Ability to accept utilize feedback on their performance
  • 8. Learning Chinese Is Not Like Learning Other Languages Chinese is a Category IV language-requires significantly more time to reach advanced levels of proficiency than other languages! Chinese is a tonal language-requires aural learning! Chinese has a very different orthographic system-requires knowledge of phonological system first! Cultural gap is more significant-requires additional time to develop cultural, behavioral, and cognitive skills necessary to successfully interact in Chinese!
  • 9. Implications Must work with foreign language supervisors/administrators to create own Chinese model-may or may not nicely fit the Spanish/French/TESL/SLA model at your school if model was not developed based on how Chinese is most efficiently and effectively learned by Americans  Separate skills: reading, writing, speaking, listening  Must teach behavioral culture-coach new behaviors  Must coach students to cognitively organize information (think) in completely new ways Must understand how Americans efficiently learn Chinese so that you can help students Must build this into curriculum (most students do not know how to best go about learning Chinese!)
  • 10. Learning IN the Culture Learning originates in concrete experience Culture creates contexts in which meaning is negotiated (Walker, 2000) Culture and language are inseparable Students learning Chinese need to have Chinese cultural experiences
  • 11. Learning IN the Culture Culturally contextualized mimetic learning works best There is typically no Chinese language or cultural environment here (at your American school) so you must build it into the program Simulation of contexts in classroom (not traditional “role play” but memorized dialogs are very useful)-purpose is to develop memory, foster “empathy”, contextualize learning process, include behavior, and set acceptable intentions in Chinese
  • 12. Learning IN the Culture Many foreign language teachers think we should relate things to what students know so that they can learn easily so they use typical American contexts Fosters thinking in English and ultimately culturally inappropriate use of language in the case of Chinese Contexts we use are all drawn from Chinese culture
  • 13. Building Cultural Contexts Language learning is most effective when it is done in a cultural context  Most notions of culture do not include behavioral culture  Without context students do not understand how to use the language they are learning  Without context difficult to move what is learned from short-term to long-term memory Constructing controlled cultural contexts in the classroom  Much more complex than telling a student ABOUT a context  Without context difficult to provide students opportunity to gain GUIDED experience using the language or to provide feedback  Account for social dynamic involved in language use and learning
  • 14. Creating Cultural Contexts Being exposed to a culture is not enough  There is no magical process of cultural osmosis. Culture is learned behavior. Learners must participate in on-going cultural activities to learn new cultural behaviors Must participate in meaningful roles in culturally significant performances (can’t go through motions and can’t be American in Chinese) Move beyond guest, tourist, and performing monkey roles in target culture
  • 15. Creating Chinese Contexts Chinese culture is goal and standard  Learner not “becoming Chinese” but developing new set of cultural skills to add to existing repertoire (Shepherd, 2005) Gaining empathy/learning to understand world from new perspective  Cannot negotiate meaning (COMMUNICATE) without it
  • 16. Constructing Chinese Contexts• Select contexts: most commonly occurring (IN CHINA!) • Is this something that your students (not you) will encounter/need to know how to do?• Simulated context but real communication• What kind of context?• Not just “foreigner Chinese”• Reduces “teacher talk”
  • 17. Constructing Context• Specific but not too specific• Applicable to other situations, transfer of knowledge is possible• Context must be clear; can be complex but students must be able to immediately know where we are, who we are, what time it is, and what we are doing• Realistic context is important but even more important is the linguistic/cultural task within the context must be authentic communication
  • 18. Raising Level of Expectations Goal of training students to use linguistically accurate AND culturally appropriate Chinese (thinking in Chinese) Break normal pattern of simplifying Chinese for the students (setting them up for failure) to begin helping students develop skills necessary to deal with real (difficult) Chinese Stop accepting less than accurate student performance
  • 19. Learning Chinese Is Not a Spectator Sport You can’t learn Chinese for your students Students must develop new habits/behaviors if they are to be successful interacting in Chinese culture over the long term To develop new behaviors they must do things themselves = autonomous learners with occasional guided/scaffolded performances Hearing it 100 times is not as effective as seeing it once Seeing it 100 times is not as effective as doing it once
  • 20. Fostering Use of Chinese Must utilize every opportunity to give exposure to authentic and natural target language in contexts of use Make Chinese the language of use with your students, inside and outside the classroom If you communicate with your students in English, you have removed their motivation for learning Chinese from the classroom and increased the amount of time it will take them to learn Chinese!
  • 21. Student Language Use In the Goal Move from text-based, character-based, or test-based curriculum to skills/student performance-driven Building a culture of use among teachers and students  Using target language in class and for real purposes  Using target language to give instructions  Using target language before and after class  Increasing amount of time STUDENTS use Chinese inside and outside of class
  • 22. Create a Culture and Community of Use Learning Chinese, like any language, requires significant time and commitment (but it is learnable) By time child six years old, has been exposed to at least 22,000 hrs of language (estimate 10 hours/day) Takes more than 40 years for student who spends two hours each weekday in foreign language classes to get equal practice time! Students will not learn Chinese in your class; it requires more practice than they can get in ANY Chinese class (or program)
  • 23. Eliciting Student Performance Increase amount of student target language use in- and outside class Teacher-dominant model  Students never get to speak Parrot-model  Students never have to do it themselves  Still have to gain this experience after they leave the classroom…when they realize this….. Elicitation model  Teacher creates opportunities for students to use what they have learned in context  Students have opportunities to succeed and to fail themselves  Opportunities for contextualized feedback
  • 24. Elicit Student Performance• Elicit: creating conditions in which the student can produce the target language without your cues or help (they have to have the opportunity to put the pieces together themselves and application of new knowledge on one’s own generates intrinsic motivation!)• How can I get the students to use the target language without telling them to use it? (not natural context of use)• Embed target dialog in larger context of story
  • 25. Elicit Performance Let students figure it out on their own (discovery learning; don’t feed them (performing monkey) Don’t ruin the fun of it for them, let students discover it on their own Most effective technique is to elicit the context and student use rather than explanation or demonstration (行 李/谢谢。。。椅子/请坐)
  • 26. Extrapolating/Stretching Wait for students/give students room to extrapolate or expand upon target within context  Only when appropriate for context  Only after appropriate Chinese culturally appropriate model is learned!  Otherwise = translation filter = CHINGLISH Encourage adding contextually and culturally appropriate language and behavior When one adds something, the next will do that and add something else of his/her own Gradually complete the construction of the context By the end of class, doing some pretty sophisticated things
  • 27. Utilize Performance-Based Learning Learning by through mimesis; learning by doing The learner does not “know” something until she can demonstrate it by doing it Only way to develop ability to do something is to do it Learner must have opportunities to fail at increasingly higher levels Doing meaningful things in culturally appropriate ways All roles-must learn how to ask and answer, initiate and respond
  • 28. Performance-based Learning Cultural (including linguistic code) learning can be facilitated by isolating recurrent structures and associated rules to be used in guided trial and error participation in commonly occurring contexts Performances are learnable segments of culture/5 elements: 1) location; 2) time; 3) roles; 4) scripts; 5) audience Developing new set of cultural skills; best learned through mimetic learning (performance, doing)
  • 29. Use Cultural Reverse Engineering• Build in five elements of a performance• Roles: Who are they? What is relationship?• Audience: Who else is there? How does that change things?• Time: What time is it?• Location: Where are we?• Script (What are they saying and what are they doing with that “saying”?) • List all related language, select target language/behaviors for lesson • Check to see if earlier content be can recycled? Add new things?
  • 30. Creating Contexts• Select props (no props just to have props, must have function, provide information) • Don’t provide too much information• Pictures very clear (glass half empty)• Most important prop = Teacher• Context must have “multi-modal elements”; speech, behavior, visual, aural (Focuses student attention! Generates interest!)• Set up room, physical classroom• Arrange sequence of events (time, difficulty, naturalness, rhythm)
  • 31. Embed Target Content• Select target language based on context rather than traditional method of explaining grammar points• Prioritize most commonly occurring contexts, most important language to naturally participate in those contexts• Can I elicit the use of the target language?
  • 32. Cycle of Automatization Repeated rehearsal performances = forced over practice of fundamental structures and skills in context Learners develop routinized mastery of performance skills  Move them from conscious to subconscious level  Attentional faculties freed up to deal with the new elements  Think of learning to play piano…you don’t have to think about your fingers after hours of practice
  • 33. Automatization/Internalization Teacher helps learner to undo routine to achieve higher levels of competence  Refocus learner attention on higher level aspects of each performance (if you don’t focus their attention on it who will?)  Bring new aspects of performance into conscious awareness  As students get words down, has them re-perform to correct tones, intonation, interpretation of meanings, facial expressions, movements and so on  Trajectory of deepening complexity  So same contexts need can be taught at differing levels of complexity with students at differing levels of sophistication  Forming new habits-takes time, uncomfortable at first
  • 34. Successful Performance Generates Intrinsic Motivation Performance in varied context also shows students their growing mastery What areas they have yet to master Generates intrinsic motivation: “I did it!” Discovery learning (Gee)-learning on one’s own, more effective than hours of explanation
  • 35. Teach Behavioral Culture B. C. often not taught because “too difficult”/large amount of preparation; a text provides an easy to follow framework for lesson Textual focus often at expense of language use; shift Attention away from textual learning at foundational level Culture has patterns and structures that are recognizable (Walker, 2000)  Often only implicitly to its members; “that’s just how we do it”  We notice structure when it breaks down; “look at that weird foreigner”  We become aware of “rules” when someone does not follow them  Needs to be but is not a regular part of our pedagogical materials, learning activities, and teaching approach Native/Experienced Non-native team teaching leads to “Smart Learning”
  • 36. Helping American Learners Adapt to Chinese Our students must reduce accommodation (Shepherd, 2005)  More work Chinese interlocutors have to do, higher likelihood English becomes mode of communication  They accomplish this by syncing (culturally calibrating behavior) Our students must develop ability to think in Chinese  Establish Chinese intentions/intentions recognized by Chinese  Can’t go through English/American culture filter  Can’t do this if we adapt Chinese to them  Do this first through mimetic learning, then through trial and error
  • 37.  To get around base culture filter, help them imitate correct way of doing (including saying) things  Mimetic learning; imitate behaviors (and language) that fits Chinese ways of establishing intentions (ways of thinking) and that are culturally appropriate (for Chinese culture not American)  Target culture is standard, not American base culture  Fun and engaging for American learners (attention!)
  • 38. Control the Learning Process Controlled activities first in order to get culturally appropriate model down Memorize and imitate acceptable behavior and language by doing in context Vary context and repeat until internalize it Begin to think in Chinese in that context Only then move to open ended (they create in context) Otherwise, rely on base culture-think in English, use Chinese words-culturally inappropriate CHINGLISH
  • 39. Do Joint Attentional Work Michael Tomasello-for new language skills to emerge must share atttention on specific cognitive tasks-must be done in Chinese in our case Create situations-students must focus on what others are saying and then engage in communication about or based on what was said Information gap; never know who will be called on; must focus attention (uncertainty, nervousness can be used!) Performance model facilitates: two students perform dialogue or context; others watch; teacher asks comprehension questions
  • 40. Keeping Attention IN Chinese Student-centered learning-give group work project…turns to English thinking and speaking, attention not IN Chinese Joint attentional work Pace All Chinese Information gap Uncertainty-when will I be called Performance Comprehension questions Real world contexts Real communication in Chinese (reacting to what they say)
  • 41. Don’t be afraid to speak Chinese! Examples:  Teacher speaks in Chinese…students ask questions in English (mixed codes/cultural environment…they’re thinking in English!!)  Teacher responds to unintelligible Chinese (to what they mean instead of what they say)  Teacher says it in Chinese then follows it up with English or says it really slowly
  • 42. Use Natural Chinese Teaching Chinese is not like teaching French or Spanish Chinese is tonal language, which presents special problems for American learners Must have aural component to learning-materials you choose and assignments you give (Yu Li’s study on reading) Impacts ability to distinguish and produce accurate tones Eliminate choral repetition-isolate individual students to find tonal issues One of the hardest things for native speakers to do (subconscious altering of rate of speech, word choice, etc.)
  • 43. Don’t Alter Your Rate of Speech Changes in rate of speech affect phrase and sentence level tone shifts in Chinese Shepherd: study with native speakers at Iowa State-recorded three rates of speech-words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs: super slow teacher talk, normal, fast speech Results: fast and normal speech tone pattern the same; slowed speech significantly different tone patterns  If you slow your speech down to model for students, you are modeling the incorrect tones  Research shows that native speakers cannot detect these tone shifts while they are producing the tones themselves!  Students will adapt to you
  • 44. Study On Tone Shifts with Changes in Rate of Speech (ni hao)
  • 45. Tone Shifts (Qingwen nin guixing)
  • 46. Feedback with Tones Must provide immediate feedback  Students subconsciously imitate tones of those around them  Rehearsing incorrect tones  Internalization and fossilization Feedback on tones must indicate that the problem is a tone, which tone, and how to produce correct tone  This type of information should be in your materials  Class time limited, sustain Chinese language environment- most effective technique: reverse build up
  • 47. Feedback Loop Important reason American students do not move beyond intermediate level…..lack of structured and informational feedback Informational Feedback (Shepherd, 2007)  Student knows what problem is AND how to fix it AND has chance to do it again  对了!真棒!很好!不错! Then student re-performs while teacher refocuses attention on different aspect of performance
  • 48. Separate Skills Separate skills/attentional and information overload In Chinese: tones, culture, orthography, meaning, pronunciation, grammar, behavior, etc. If all presented at the same time, cognitive overload, none of them learned to high levels, every lesson does not need to include a writing focus for instance Foundation in phonology first (speaking, listening and interaction) then reading, then writing Do a little of each but clear focus of each less on 1 skill set
  • 49. Don’t Become Ms. Othmar Separating English explanation and rehearsal in target language Declarative and procedural knowledge (we don’t care if students can complete grammar worksheets or explain grammar-declarative-as long as they can use the language appropriately-procedural) Extensive explanations (of grammar, etc.)  Explanation mode vs. T-S mode vs. S-S mode  Have them do it  Students will remember ten times longer and understand much better if they learn on their own in context
  • 50. Separate English Explanation and Chinese Use Mixed linguistic codes confuse students, prevent them from having the chance to develop listening comprehension, and cause them to lose focus-just wait for the English, it’s easier and safer If do not separate, fostering Chinese meat and English bones-thinking in English-very dangerous “deti” Create two distinct locations, 2 days and three days, etc.
  • 51. Coach Your Students HOW to Learn Most students at the K-12 level (for most levels actually) do not know how to study/learn efficiently Will tell you exact opposite of what they actually need Most important thing you can teach them is how to go about learning Chinese (they can then do it on their own) Element built into program to teach them how to learn Chinese efficiently and effectively Requires understanding things from learner perspective Teaching how to learn Chinese vs. teaching Chinese
  • 52. Coaching How to Learn Most language learners don’t know how to effectively and efficiently learn a foreign language Helping students LEARN HOW TO LEARN Chinese SHOW them effective study habits  What works for American learners SHOW them efficient ways of learning SHOW them why certain ways are better than others SHOW them examples of successful learners SHOW them with their own performance If they see the results, they will do it themselves