Understanding Chinese adult language learners’ needs: a cross-curricular perspective

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The purpose of the chapter is twofold: to review the research concerning the needs analysis of Chinese language learners in tertiary settings by examining historical and contemporary contexts for this work; and to provide a cross-curricular perspective to complement the scholarship in the area by examining whether and how Chinese learners’ needs differ according to students’ family backgrounds (i.e. CHL and CFL learners) and across different learning contexts (TL-removed and TL-embedded). A case study was conducted at three universities from Australia, China, and the US with a focus on Chinese students’ profiles and learning needs reveals that learners’ self-assessments of their language learning needs are context-dependent and grounded in their own learning experiences and expectations from the curriculum and the sociolinguistic environments within which they live. Family background, a vital element in Chinese language learning, proves to be facilitative for CHL students especially lower-level students in Chinese-removed contexts (e.g. in Australia or US) for their speaking and listening abilities. However, such family backgrounds do not necessarily impose a positive impact on the perceptions of those CHL learners studying in a Chinese-embedded area (e.g. in China), where students’ language needs derive from not merely the request of the curriculum, but also the necessity to survive in a new sociocultural environment. Additionally, the study testifies that the immersion experience is not necessarily conducive to the development of students’ language confidence and competence but the length and depth that students could engage in the environment makes a difference. It suggests that the needs analysis in the context of Chinese language teaching should consider the complexity of Chinese language learners and their learning environments, which involve various layers of contact to TL and its culture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Chinese Language Teaching
EditorsChris Shei, Monica E. McLellan Zikpi, Der-lon Chao
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781315104652
ISBN (Print)9781138097940
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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