Research Agenda

After consulting with scholars in Chinese language education internationally, two research priorities emerged at the top of our list for a Research Agenda for Chinese Language Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education. It is our intention to routinely foreground one to two priorities for concerted research by Chinese applied linguists and educators worldwide but these seem important to tackle initially and both are sufficiently broad as to allow various kinds of research addressing these important theoretical and educational issues.

1.  Effective and engaging Chinese literacy education

The rationale for this topic is that the complexity of Chinese literacy (especially character-based literacy) makes it particularly challenging for learners whose languages use alphabetic or other phonetic orthographies. Chinese literacy therefore presents challenges for both heritage and non-heritage learners and often discourages students from reaching higher levels of proficiency in Chinese. Research on effective and engaging literacy education is urgently needed.

A variety of theoretical and methodological approaches may be taken but studies should be directly related to literacy (ability to read and write Chinese), and should have demonstrated practical relevance and applications for pedagogy and teacher education in Chinese as an international language. We especially encourage research that examines literacy instruction–not only character learning but also more global literacy proficiency (reading/writing) at different levels. Sample topics include:

  • Development of character recognition/orthographic awareness and use in contextualized Chinese reading texts and reading activities;
  • Research on effective approaches to Chinese literacy education for young learners (e.g., elementary school), including the effective sequencing of Chinese orthography (phonetic and character versions) in relation to students’ oral language development;
  • Research on effective classroom literacy instruction, materials, and activities;
  • Research on heritage language learners’ biliteracy development, possibly as distinct from non-heritage learners’ developmental issues;
  • Effects of new technologies and platforms for developing reading and writing proficiency (i.e. not just character recognition and production);
  • Curriculum development for effective and engaging reading/writing education;
  • The relationship between literacy development and oral development, and vice versa, in Chinese as an international language;
  • Literacy assessment, including a critical assessment of standardized tests of literacy;
  • Research on effective teacher training about Chinese literacy instruction for language learners at different levels (e.g., k-16; adult; beginner to advanced).

 2.  Effective and engaging Chinese oral language instruction for advanced learners

The rationale for this topic is that in lower-level courses, students often develop oral and listening skills through short dialogues and other activities with explicit instruction on aspects of basic oral language. However, at advanced levels, students are often asked to discuss sophisticated topics or engage in formal conversation without receiving instruction on different oral registers of Chinese (formal, informal; academic, non-academic); genres (speaking for different purposes and different audiences); and appropriate grammatical, pragmatic, discursive, and lexical resources for these registers and genres.

A variety of theoretical and methodological approaches may be taken but studies should be directly related to oral language instruction and development for advanced learners and should have demonstrated practical relevance and applications for pedagogy and teacher education in Chinese as an additional language. We especially encourage research that examines how language courses and teaching materials can effectively foster contextualized oral language development and proficiency in terms of an expanded repertoire of genres, registers, discourse-level grammar, pragmatics, and lexis at the advanced level. Sample topics include:

  • Examining and developing effective classroom instruction and materials for expanding students’ metalinguistic awareness of different registers, genres, and grammatical resources and their ability to produce language across a range of oral contexts and topics;

  • The development of sophisticated second language pragmatics (oral) for advanced learners in order to address a range of audiences, genres, and topics;

  • Effective and engaging oral language instruction in content-based language courses;

  • The assessment of oral language proficiency in situated activities at advanced levels.