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A classroom ethnographic study of Chinese Heritage Language teaching, learning and maintenance in American Colleges

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Abstract:

Introduction
With increasing waves of immigrants since its inception as a nation, the US has developed as a multilingual and multicultural society. The gradual process of assimilation and acculturation in succeeding generations influences the maintenance of these immigrants’ heritage language (HL). It is important to realize that HL maintenance is not only an individual but also a social process that involves connections with schools and teachers (Vygotsky, 1978). Therefore, addressing how to deal with the various needs of language learners from different backgrounds has been a particular concern for Chinese language programs in the US.

Purpose of Statement
The purpose of this classroom ethnographic study is to compare the learning experiences of heritage language learners (HLLs) in heritage and non heritage drill sections of a college Chinese language class. The researcher seeks to understand advantages or challenges HLLs encounter in these distinctive settings. The researcher will also explore how these each setting influences HLLs’ learning motivation, HL identity, and views of HLM. In addition, pre and post observation interviews will be conducted with the instructors to understand their views of HL teaching.

Research Questions
There are four primary research questions: 1) How do Chinese HLLs experience HL learning in the college classroom setting? 2) How do Chinese instructors experience language teaching in college Chinese language courses? 3) What gaps exist between HLLs’ and instructors’ views toward HL teaching and learning in college Chinese language courses? and 4) How do we balance HLLs’ perceptions and instructors’ teaching philosophy and strengthen methods for teaching Chinese language courses in the college setting?

Theoretical Framework
Within the context of this study, Vygotsky’s (1978) theory of language learning will be used to explain how Chinese HLLs’ language communication mediates their identity, language motivation, and language behavior in the college setting. In addition, He’s (2008) identity theory of Chinese heritage language development will be adopted to discuss the components of HL acquisition and likely modifications to the identities of Chinese HLLs during their HL development. Finally, Dörnyei’s (1994) three levels of motivation construct and L2 motivational self system (2009) will be used to analyze Chinese HLLs’ learning motivation from the personal, social and educational dimensions of HL learning and HLM.

Methodology and Data Sources
The researcher will implement ethnographic monitoring (Hymes, 1981) to document the perceptions of eight HLLs and their teachers in heritage and non heritage drill sections of a Chinese intermediate class during the 2013-2014 academic year. Three-tier in-depth interviews (Seidman, 2003) and focus interviews (Merriam, 2009) will be used to arrive at a deeper understanding of HLLs’ identity, learning motivation and views toward HL maintenance. Additionally, pre- and post classroom observation interviews will be conducted with the HL teachers (N=2) and the Chinese program coordinator to understand their HL teaching philosophy. The qualitative data analysis software Nvivo and guidance from Pavlenko’s (2001) narrative data analysis approach will be used to analyze the data.

Anticipated Results
The anticipated results suggest that HLLs’ motivation to use Chinese to interact with others differed according to their self-perceived identities. Teachers’ perceptions of HLLs may influence the frequency of their interaction with HLLs in different drill sections. HLLs may voice their dissatisfaction with the differences in assessment methods used with HLLs and non HLLs. For their part, teachers may claim that they hadn’t realized the differences between teaching L2 and HL until they faced challenges from HLLs, and they may want to receive more training in HL teaching.

Significance of the study to the field of comparative or international education

The U.S. government has recently begun to recognize HLs as national resources because HL speakers can meet the country’s specialized needs in a global economy (Wu, 2008). In light of this recognition, it is important to identify HLLs’ learning needs and objectives achieving they pursue their goal of maintaining their HL. Qualitatively exploring the issue of HL teaching and learning in the college setting will allow the significant stories of Chinese HL learners and HL teachers to be discovered and understood. Furthermore, comparing HL learners and teachers views on HL learning will reveal any existing gaps between HL teaching and learning. Understanding the values and expectations of HL learners and teachers’ with regard to HL maintenance provides a guideline for administrators and educators to adjust their curriculum designs, teaching methodologies, and language requirement policies accordingly to meet the needs of HL learners.
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Association:
Name: Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference
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MLA Citation:

Yu, Pei-Shan. "A classroom ethnographic study of Chinese Heritage Language teaching, learning and maintenance in American Colleges" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mar 10, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p706298_index.html>

APA Citation:

Yu, P. , 2014-03-10 "A classroom ethnographic study of Chinese Heritage Language teaching, learning and maintenance in American Colleges" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p706298_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Introduction
With increasing waves of immigrants since its inception as a nation, the US has developed as a multilingual and multicultural society. The gradual process of assimilation and acculturation in succeeding generations influences the maintenance of these immigrants’ heritage language (HL). It is important to realize that HL maintenance is not only an individual but also a social process that involves connections with schools and teachers (Vygotsky, 1978). Therefore, addressing how to deal with the various needs of language learners from different backgrounds has been a particular concern for Chinese language programs in the US.

Purpose of Statement
The purpose of this classroom ethnographic study is to compare the learning experiences of heritage language learners (HLLs) in heritage and non heritage drill sections of a college Chinese language class. The researcher seeks to understand advantages or challenges HLLs encounter in these distinctive settings. The researcher will also explore how these each setting influences HLLs’ learning motivation, HL identity, and views of HLM. In addition, pre and post observation interviews will be conducted with the instructors to understand their views of HL teaching.

Research Questions
There are four primary research questions: 1) How do Chinese HLLs experience HL learning in the college classroom setting? 2) How do Chinese instructors experience language teaching in college Chinese language courses? 3) What gaps exist between HLLs’ and instructors’ views toward HL teaching and learning in college Chinese language courses? and 4) How do we balance HLLs’ perceptions and instructors’ teaching philosophy and strengthen methods for teaching Chinese language courses in the college setting?

Theoretical Framework
Within the context of this study, Vygotsky’s (1978) theory of language learning will be used to explain how Chinese HLLs’ language communication mediates their identity, language motivation, and language behavior in the college setting. In addition, He’s (2008) identity theory of Chinese heritage language development will be adopted to discuss the components of HL acquisition and likely modifications to the identities of Chinese HLLs during their HL development. Finally, Dörnyei’s (1994) three levels of motivation construct and L2 motivational self system (2009) will be used to analyze Chinese HLLs’ learning motivation from the personal, social and educational dimensions of HL learning and HLM.

Methodology and Data Sources
The researcher will implement ethnographic monitoring (Hymes, 1981) to document the perceptions of eight HLLs and their teachers in heritage and non heritage drill sections of a Chinese intermediate class during the 2013-2014 academic year. Three-tier in-depth interviews (Seidman, 2003) and focus interviews (Merriam, 2009) will be used to arrive at a deeper understanding of HLLs’ identity, learning motivation and views toward HL maintenance. Additionally, pre- and post classroom observation interviews will be conducted with the HL teachers (N=2) and the Chinese program coordinator to understand their HL teaching philosophy. The qualitative data analysis software Nvivo and guidance from Pavlenko’s (2001) narrative data analysis approach will be used to analyze the data.

Anticipated Results
The anticipated results suggest that HLLs’ motivation to use Chinese to interact with others differed according to their self-perceived identities. Teachers’ perceptions of HLLs may influence the frequency of their interaction with HLLs in different drill sections. HLLs may voice their dissatisfaction with the differences in assessment methods used with HLLs and non HLLs. For their part, teachers may claim that they hadn’t realized the differences between teaching L2 and HL until they faced challenges from HLLs, and they may want to receive more training in HL teaching.

Significance of the study to the field of comparative or international education

The U.S. government has recently begun to recognize HLs as national resources because HL speakers can meet the country’s specialized needs in a global economy (Wu, 2008). In light of this recognition, it is important to identify HLLs’ learning needs and objectives achieving they pursue their goal of maintaining their HL. Qualitatively exploring the issue of HL teaching and learning in the college setting will allow the significant stories of Chinese HL learners and HL teachers to be discovered and understood. Furthermore, comparing HL learners and teachers views on HL learning will reveal any existing gaps between HL teaching and learning. Understanding the values and expectations of HL learners and teachers’ with regard to HL maintenance provides a guideline for administrators and educators to adjust their curriculum designs, teaching methodologies, and language requirement policies accordingly to meet the needs of HL learners.


Similar Titles:
Heritage Language Maintenance by Chinese-American College Students: a Classroom Ethnographic Study

Title: A Classroom Ethnographic Study of Chinese Heritage Language Teaching, Learning and Maintenance in American Colleges


 
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