Ground-breaking book examines how to teach Mandarin in English-speaking schools

A cutting-edge book by UCL Institute of Education (IOE) academics has been released investigating the approaches to teaching Mandarin in English-speaking schools.

The book is the first to draw on classroom-based research to investigate the impact of existing and new Mandarin teaching approaches.

The collection of essays has been edited by Fotini Diamantidaki, Lin Pan and Katharine Carruthers, director of the IOE Confucius Institute for Schools which supports the development of Mandarin Chinese as a language on offer in schools as part of the mainstream curriculum.

One essay focuses on how Chinese characters are taught in UK schools. Characters have historically been considered a significant challenge for foreign language learners due to the huge difference between the Chinese writing system and that of alphabetic languages.

However, the author, Emily Preston, suggests that many of the challenges learners face whilst learning Chinese characters have less to do with the difficulty of the Chinese language itself and more to do with the methods of instruction, inadequate resources, and a lack of awareness of the skills that students need to become autonomous learners.

Other essays include how the internet and digital resources can be used in Chinese language teaching and learning, and how Chinese teachers can become researchers in order to help improve practice.

The book aims to offer practical ideas for teachers of Chinese to implement in their own classrooms, evaluation of differing strategies and approaches unique to teaching Chinese and examples of using action research to help teachers reflect on their own practice while informing practice across the discipline.

It is hoped that the book will be useful for PGCE Mandarin students, teacher trainers and those involved in the development of Mandarin Chinese in schools across the UK and further afield.

‘Mandarin Chinese Teacher Education’ is the first book in a series called ‘Teaching Chinese’, edited by Katharine Carruthers and Lin Pan. It was published by UCL IOE Press on 1 March 2018. Chinese translation version will be published by Peking University Press soon.

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