The teaching and learning of Chinese in English primary schools : five exploratory case studies in the West Midlands region of the UK

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Li, Li (Researcher in education)
  • Subject: LB1501 | P1

This study examines four aspects of teaching Chinese in English primary schools – participants’ motivations, teachers’ backgrounds and subject knowledge, the teaching of Chinese and participants’ experience – and potential relationships between them. Building on a previous survey of Chinese teaching in English primary schools (CILT 2007), it provides a more detailed picture of teaching and learning Chinese and has important implications for practitioners and policy makers.\ud \ud Five case studies were conducted in four English primary schools to investigate the teaching and learning of Chinese. Mixed methods were used to collect data, including a structured questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, lesson observations and field notes.\ud \ud The findings suggest strong relationships between teachers’ backgrounds and their subject knowledge. These impact upon their teaching as a result of their priorities and preferences in teaching Chinese pinyin, characters, culture and language. This study identifies gaps in different aspects of teachers’ subject knowledge, informing government that the training of future teachers of Chinese should involve either training English primary class teachers in Chinese or equipping Chinese heritage teachers with primary pedagogical skills. Pupils’ motivations and experience suggest that the former may be more successful, as teachers’ pedagogy seems to outweigh their knowledge of Chinese in motivating and maintaining pupils’ interest.\ud \ud The content of Chinese teaching is unregulated and hotly debated. Pupils’ opinions and experiences of very different teaching styles suggest that Chinese culture and written characters should be included in teaching Chinese. However, this finding has implications for teacher training and pupil study practices. In addition, this study suggests that pupil expectations constrain teachers’ teaching, and that head teachers play a very important role in the development of Chinese teaching in schools. This study informs government that there is an urgent demand for appropriate guidance for primary teachers of Chinese, as current governmental guidelines are unsuitable for and unused by teachers.
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