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Framing school retention strategies

For the purpose of this chapter, 'school retention strategies' refer to those organised, collaborative processes designed to increase the number of learners of Chinese from kindergarten through to 12th grade. To explore this problem, data were gathered so that it could be analysed to address the following research question: What teaching/learning methods might be used to develop interest in, a sense of reward with, and desire to learn Chinese with beginning learners, in any grade from kindergarten to 12th grade, for whom English is their everyday language of instruction and communication? To help answer this question, an integrative theoretical framework of 'school retention strategies' was developed to address these three interrelated domains of school retention strategies, namely corpus, acquisition and status (Hache, 2001; Hornberger, 2006). The theoretic- pedagogical framing used in this study is elaborated upon below.

Corpus: selecting content to secure learners' interest in Chinese

A key question is what corpus of Chinese might develop and maintain learners' interest in learning Chinese? The concept 'language as a local social practice' (Brandt & Clinton, 2002; Pennycook, 2010) gives warrant to researching pedagogies whereby the form of Chinese that is taught is integral to, expressive of and responsive to the corpus of local, everyday sociolinguistic activities which beginning learners use recurrently, day in, day out. This makes it necessary to research the learners' everyday sociolinguistic practices undertaken in English, and then to select those sociolinguistic activities which can provide appropriate content for teaching and learning Chinese (Kelly, 2012). Researching and selecting real world excerpts from the knowledge-language activities of learners' recurring curriculum exercises provides one possible focus (Carter, 2006). Here the Chinese to be made learnable is defined as being established by and selected from the corpus of sociolinguistic activities beginning learners use in their daily lives (Singh & Han, 2014). In other words, the form of Chinese to be taught is based on the knowledge- language activities for which learners use English in organising coherent ways of doing and saying things in their daily lives.

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