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2019 Conference on Chinese Language Education in the South Pacific

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Participants of 2019 Conference on Chinese Language Education in the South Pacific.

The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Confucius Institute (CI) co-hosted the Conference on Chinese Language Education at the Laucala Campus on 17thand 18thAugust 2019 with the Consortium of Advanced Subjects of New Zealand (CAS-NZ) and the Pinnacle Education Group.  Special support was provided by Jinan University, Higher Education Press and Cheng & Tsui Publishing.

The keynote speakers for the conference were Prof. Hongyin Tao (UCLA), Prof. John Read (University of Auckland), Prof. Linda Tsung (University of Sydney), Prof. Lawrence Jun Zhang (University of Auckland) and Prof. K. K. Luke (Nanyang Technological University).  The presenters at the Round-Table Discussion were Antoine Barnaat (CI Queensland University of Technology), Joan Yee (CI USP), Phillip Sun (CI Queensland University of Technology), Huiping Wu (Marymount International School London), and Ning Zhang (CI University of Adelaide).  The parallel discussion sessions were led by teachers from Fudan University and Jinan University.

In his welcoming speech, Dr. Matthew Hayward, Associate Dean of USP’s Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE), stated that “Chinese people and communities have for centuries played a significant part in the development and culture of Fiji and the South Pacific region.” The number of students who wish to study the Chinese language increases every year at USP showing that “this participation is not one-way, but is rather a reciprocal process of exchange and inter-culturation.  And at the heart of this exchange – all human exchange – is language.”

Prof. K. K. Luke, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (left); Dr. Matthew Hayward, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts Law and Education (FALE), USP School of Language, Arts and Media (SLAM) (middle); Professor Lawrence Jun Zhang, Associate Dean, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland (right).

Prof. K.K. Luke’s keynote address was entitled ‘Grammar is Use’.   His title is from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s adage on the semanticmultiplicity or “ambiguity” of words.  He added that no distinction should, or can, be made between the grammar of a word (or a class of words) and their use.  He illustrated this using conversational data from Hong Kong and Singapore. 

During his opening speech, he said that Singapore’s bilingual education is based on an ‘English + MT (Mother Tongue)’ formula.  For 75% of its population, Mandarin is their MT.  He said that this is becoming increasingly challenging as English is gaining ground both at home and at school. The fact that the other language in the bilingual education formula is English places Mandarin-learning in a particularly difficult position, not only in terms of its linguistic disparity to English, but also due English’s long-standing linguistic hegemony and overpowering social status.

“For stronger students taking Higher Chinese as a subject in secondary school, there is an attempt to raise standards of Chinese [sic] by giving students more opportunities to write and by incorporating it into the national examinations. Whether these measures would work is unclear, but they reflect the government’s strong commitment to bilingual education,” he added.

Prof. Hongyin Tao, spoke on ‘Affect and Other Functions in Chinese as a Second Language (CSL)’. He said that Discourse Linguists have long argued that language is not only for the transmission of information but equally important for the expression of affect, emotion, empathy, and similar functions.  This should be reflected in second language pedagogy, but in CSL, much less attention has been paid to this aspect.  He gave illustrations of how authentic multimodal usage patterns of language can improve the quality of pedagogy in the CSL Classroom.

Prof. John Read addressed the ‘Issues in Assessing Chinese as a Second Language” from a Language Tester’s perspective.

“The teaching of Chinese as a second language is now well established both in China and internationally, and a number of standardized tests have been developed to measure learners’ achievements in reaching their learning goals. However, the academic field of CSL assessment  is relatively less developed and has had little impact in the international research community until recently,” he said.

“As the teaching of the Language expands, there is a need to address multiple issues in assessing the language at all levels, from the global to the local.”

Prof. Linda Tsung gave insights on ‘Chinese language in Australia: Cultural Capital, Identity and Issues’.

She said Chinese is one of the oldest community languages in Australia, with Chinese immigration to Australia dating back to the earliest days of British colonization in 1788. 

She examined how the Chinese language shifted from a largely unknown and denigrated language under the White Australia Policy to a prestige language.  Her study indicated that there are complex relationships between the Chinese language as “linguistic capital” and “local cultural capital”, the matriculation ranking system is a major cause of students dropping Chinese at senior Secondary level, and Chinese community schools are shifting to Mandarin in place of Cantonese and other dialects.

Prof. Lawrence Jun Zhang spoke on ‘Teaching and Learning as Dynamic Metacognitive System: The Case of Chinese as a Foreign or Additional Language for Inter-and Intra- cultural Communication’.

He emphasised that the learning and teaching enterprise is a complex system, where the cosmos are comprised of a multitude of factors and variables that influence the learning outcomes.  He explained what the “Dynamic Metacognitive System” looks like and how the system can be used to improve the teaching and learning of languages, with particular reference to Chinese as a foreign/additional language.

Dr Yang Hui, Chinese Director of the CIUSP, said that "The conference will help promote the cooperation and development of Chinese language education in the South Pacific region and pave a sustainable pathway for the future of Chinese language education globally."

 


This news item was published on 22 Aug 2019 10:39:24 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email communications@usp.ac.fj


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