EDUC5180 Learning and Additional Language Assignment 2 - Activities analysis JIN Man 110158709

Analysis of language learning activities in the textbook for learning Chinese as
second language in Australian secondary schools

Second language teaching and learning has been studied for years. The process of second
language acquisition becomes more complex in Australia secondary schools due to the
regional contemporary context. There are many factors involved in this process such as
teachers, learners and learning materials. As important teaching and learning resources,
textbooks have considerable impact on second language learners and learning in terms of
how it presents language, culture, etc. and the relationship between them (Scrimgeour
2016). Therefore, some activities are chosen to be analysed from the textbook Chinese
made easy, which is a widely used textbook for teaching and learning Chinese as second
language in Australian schools. This essay will firstly identify and describe the types of
learning processes involved in learners' engagement with the chosen activities in the
textbook and some problems and limitations of them will be demonstrated. Then, how the
activities might be enhanced or adapted to improve learning based on the consideration of
some relevant theories and approaches will be discussed.

Brief introduction of the chosen textbook and chapter
The activities which are to be analysed are chosen from chapter 3 in the textbook
Chinese made easy 2 for year 9 students who learn Chinese as second language in
Australian secondary schools. The topic of the chapter is Hobbies (see appendix A) and
there are three lessons in the chapter, with the title of My hobby is listening to music, He
plays basketball best and She likes playing guitar respectively. Allied to this, there is a short
passage related to Chinese culture following each lesson which is provided as reading
material for cultural knowledge and some relative vocabulary. There are three main types of
activities involved in each lesson: readings, exercises of key structures and activities for fun
such as riddles.

Analysis of activities
There are some learning processes involved when learners do the activities. Two types of
activities are involved in this analysis in terms of reading passages as well as language
exercises and practice. The analysis will focus on what the materials presenting and
providing and the factors that have impact on learners' engagement with them.

1
EDUC5180 Learning and Additional Language Assignment 2 - Activities analysis JIN Man 110158709

Firstly, some short passages (see appendix B) are provided as the reading materials for
students to gain some knowledge of Chinese language and culture. The main text provided
at the beginning of the lesson includes three short passages introducing three persons'
daily routine and leisure activities respectively. The first and second paragraph mostly
introduce the characters' daily activities while the third one mainly focus on hobbies. When
learners read these passages, they may start from some familiar topics such as
nationalities, which has been mentioned in chapter 1, and some basic expressions of time.
Then, some ways of introducing hobbies such as I like listening to music and my hobbies
are playing computer games and reading novels are presented to learners. It can be seen
that there is an intension of inviting learners' prior knowledge at the starting point of
introducing the new one which allows learners to activate their existing knowledge and
make connections between the prior knowledge and new information. However, there is no
instructions for learners to understand what are the purpose of reading the passages and
what they can do with it before they read them for nothing and go to the next page of the
textbook. This means that students may read purposelessly and they hardly build the
connection with the knowledge or reflect on it. In this case, from the perspective of
understanding language as a social practice, students may fail to create and negotiate their
own understanding and interpretation of the new information and establish the connection
with the language of their learning by understanding the relationship between their own
language and the target language (Scarino & Liddicoat 2009, p. 17).

There are two learning tasks and materials followed the readings (see appendix C). One is
answer the questions according to the short passages, another is a list of new words in the
passages. In order to answer the questions, learners need to read and understand the
questions and the text which are presented in Chinese with pinyin and look for the detailed
information related to the questions. The list of new vocabulary titled with New words which
is presenting randomly and followed by English translations is probably provided for
learners to learn the meanings and remember. It seems that learners may practice their
reading skills through answering questions about the passages and new words are
highlighted and shown for improve their vocabulary.

However, there are some factors that may made language improvement difficult. One of the
fact can be seen is that all the questions are closed questions and the answers can be
found directly in the text. This means that there is only chance for students to practice

2
EDUC5180 Learning and Additional Language Assignment 2 - Activities analysis JIN Man 110158709

scanning skills but no opportunity for learners to have interactions with the learning material.
In a sense, reading skills are just a part of but not at the heart of second language learning.
According to Scarino and Liddicoat (2009, p. 43), as an essential part of interaction, which
allows learners to explore ideas, build relationship with others promote language learning,
questions need to not only ask for looking for information and answers but also offer the
possibility of opening up further discussion which allow learners to think about, reflect on
and take the control of their learning. Therefore, if closed questions are used without being
combined with open questions, it may fail to facilitate further language learning. Another
factor is related to the presenting of the new words. Based on the study of Horst (2005,
cited in Lightbown & Spada 2013, p. 161), Lightbown and Spada (2013, p. 162) state that
as a valuable source of new vocabulary, reading gives learners chances to encounter the
new words in context and allow learners to remember a reasonable number of the new
words after their frequent appears. By contrast, the way of presenting new words in the
textbook is put them together with their English meanings, short phrase and even fantizi
which gives students neither the context nor the way of using them. Furthermore, even if
learners may go back to the text to learn the words in the context, the passages are so
short that it is insufficient for students to either understand the words in various context or
encounter them often enough. This may become the obstacles for learners to remember
the new vocabulary and use them productively.

Allied to the main text, there is a short paragraph followed by another list of new words
about a particular topic of Chinese culture and customs at the end of the lesson (see
appendix D). There are two considerations based on this learning activity. The first one is
the purpose of the activity. It seems that learners may engage in reading something more
interesting than the main text and have a touch of Chinese culture and customs. In this
case, the new words highlight here may not be necessary for students to either be
encouraged to read for fun nor have a better understanding of the Chinese culture.
Furthermore, the way of presenting cultural information seems not efficient for learners to
promote effective intercultural learning during which students may engage in the
relationships between culture and language to further develop their language learning
(Scarino & Liddicoat 2009, p.22). Experts state that understanding the relationship between
language and culture plays an essential role in the process of learning another language
(Scarino & Liddicoat 2009, p.18). This short passage is more like an additional material
which is irrelevant to the learning topic of the chapter and lesson. This means that the

3
EDUC5180 Learning and Additional Language Assignment 2 - Activities analysis JIN Man 110158709

reading for culture information here is shown only for presenting the culture and it fails to
not only help students negotiate meaning across their own culture and culture of language
of their learning. Therefore, from the intercultural perspective discussed in the study of
Kohler (2015, p. 27), the cultural knowledge provided in addition to linguistic knowledge but
fail to be integrated with it in interaction and communication.

Another important learning materials are some tasks and exercises for practicing grammar,
language patterns and structures. Take the activity of pattern drills in this chapter as an
example (see appendix E). In this activity, an sample of what students are expected to write
down as well as the original phrases are given and the target structure is next to the drill in
the part of note. Firstly, it can be seen that the only structure for this activity is the title
pattern drills above. This means that learners may not get the idea of what they are asked
to do and how to do it. Therefore, in order to finish this task, teacher becomes the only
person to have an understanding and interpretation of the purpose of the task and this
made this more teachers' teaching material but learners' learning material. Furthermore,
according to Scrimgeour (2016), grammar is the social action which makes meaning in
context. Based on the investigations carried out by Lightbown (1983, cited in Lightbown &
Spada 2013, p.157), experts argue that focusing on accuracy and practice of a grammatical
pattern is inefficient for second language learners to use the form correctly by themselves
or make personal connections with the knowledge of target language. Another example can
be seen in the translation activity (see appendix F) that learners are asked to understand
and use the target pattern when translate the sentences from Chinese to English and from
English to Chinese no matter if the learner's real experience was irrelevant to the sentences
they are trying to understand and write. It seem that this practice is neither interactive nor
meaningful, which are two of the important principles for practice according to Ortega (2007,
cited in Lightbown & Spada 2013, p. 117).

How to enhance or adapt the activities
It can be seen that the activities discussed above are insufficient to engage learners in their
learning processes and promote intercultural language learning which emphasize the
importance of communication and interactions within their own language and culture,
across languages and cultures and relationships between them (Scarino & Liddicoat 2009,
p. 33). As the basis for language knowledge and cultural input, textbooks for second
language learning should provide structured and sequenced language learning

4
EDUC5180 Learning and Additional Language Assignment 2 - Activities analysis JIN Man 110158709

opportunities and promote intercultural language learning (Scrimgeour 2016).

There are some ways that the activities might be enhanced or adapted to improve learning.
Firstly, in adapting the resource, it is important to consider whether the activities are
purposeful and have connections with learners' real life to improve engagement (Scarino &
Liddicoat 2009, p. 60). Take the main reading passages as an example. Before learners
read the passages, there can be a discussion about the topic of the lesson and what they
may be going to read. Then the instructions should be made explicit that what the learners
is going to do with the passage and why they are going to do this. This may help learners to
read and learn more actively with a goal. Furthermore, after reading and understanding the
information of the passages, some open questions could be added and there may be a
further discussion in pairs or groups based on the initial questions in terms of their personal
feelings of the texts, reflection on their readings and the similarities and differences
between their own life experience and the information in the passages. During the
discussion, learners may negotiate meaning across diverse perspectives and build their
personal connections with the learning materials as well as understanding of their learning
processes.

Similarly, the interactions and communication should be promoted when doing the activities
of practicing grammar. Language is open, dynamic and personal and there is a
communicative purpose of learning a new language (Scarino & Liddicoat 2009, p.16).
Vocabulary, rules and knowledge of language are important for language learning but it is
inefficient if they are learned isolated by drilled practice (Lightbown & Spada 2013, p. 117).
Experts agrees that conversational interaction is essential for second language learning,
which may mediates thinking and facilitates cognitive processes (Lightbown & Spada 2013,
p. 118). For instance, when students do the activity of pattern drills, there should be an
opportunity for learners to work together and talk about the language, compare the target
structures with their own language, explore the rules of using the language pattern by
themselves. During this process, examples, illustrations and further questions may be
provided as the mediation or scaffolds in some circumstances. In this way, learners may
have a chance to be aware of their own ways of thinking and learning language, establish
the connections between their first language and target language, existing conceptions and
new understanding as well as the knowledge of metacognition (Scarino & Liddicoat 2009, p.
31).

5
EDUC5180 Learning and Additional Language Assignment 2 - Activities analysis JIN Man 110158709

Moreover, cultural knowledge should not be provided as additional resource but in a way of
cooperating with intercultural language learning which involves combining language,
cultural and learning as the same time in language learning process (Kohler 2015, p. 30). In
the chosen lesson of the textbook, both main text and short cultural reading can be used in
a more intercultural way. For example, the main text which includes three short paragraphs
can be used as the discussion material for students to talk about popular leisure activities in
China and Australia. The cultural reading may provide a context of talking about Chinese
Spring Festival and the New Year's Day in Australia. During the discussion, students may
find some similarities and new information of other places in the world, improve their
awareness of their own cultural identities as well as understanding of other culture and
build their connections with the world and language learning. This kind of communication
and interaction with others and other cultural knowledge situates learners in the 'third place'
where the relationships between their first language, culture and the other language,
culture are emphasized (Kohler 2015, p.28) and the awareness of self in relation to others
in the world is generated (Scarino & Liddicoat 2009, p. 34).

In conclusion, according to the analysis of the chosen activities in the textbook for learning
Chinese as second language in Australian secondary schools, there are limitations and
absence of involving interactions, communication and intercultural language learning within
the chosen activities. For instance, there is no clear instruction of the activities, drilled
exercises are used for practicing patterns inefficiently and isolating readings for cultural
knowledge are presenting irrelatively. However, there are some ways to enhance learning
process through improving learners engagement and adapt the resources to intercultural
language learning. The interactions and communication of the knowledge, about the
language and across culture should be encourage based on the learning resource and
within the language learning resources. However, this essay is based on the analysis of
one chosen chapter in a particular textbook for learning Chinese as second language in
Australian secondary schools. Therefore, there may be limitations when considering
variable language learning resource as well as contemporary ways of adapting them and
further study and analysis is needed.

6
EDUC5180 Learning and Additional Language Assignment 2 - Activities analysis JIN Man 110158709

References

Kohler, M 2015, 'Understanding of language and culture in language teaching and learning',
Teachers as mediators in the foreign language classroom, Multilingual Matters, UK, pp.
17-38.

Lightbown, PM & Spada, N 2013, How languages are learned, Oxford University Press,
Oxford.

Scarino, A & Liddicoat, AJ 2009, Teaching and Learning Languages; A Guide, Curriculum
Corp, Melbourne.

Scrimgeour, A 2016, 'Learning an Additional Language', lecture notes distributed in EDUC
5180 at The University of South Australia, Adelaide in SP2 2016.

7
EDUC5180 Learning and Additional Language Assignment 2 - Activities analysis JIN Man 110158709

Appendix A:

Appendix B:

8
EDUC5180 Learning and Additional Language Assignment 2 - Activities analysis JIN Man 110158709

Appendix C:

Appendix D:

9
EDUC5180 Learning and Additional Language Assignment 2 - Activities analysis JIN Man 110158709

Appendix E:

Appendix F:

10