Learners: Activity 4

Predict their performance in using Chinese

  1. Does topic affect accuracy, fluency or complexity? 
    Look at each learner’s fluency, accuracy and complexity in the interview in two places: where they talk about their language learning history, and where they summarize the plot of a movie.  Is your impression of the learner’s fluency, accuracy and complexity different when they address these different topics?  If it is, why do you think that might happen?
  2. Can the learners do these tasks? 
    Look at the six tasks the learners will do.  Make a prediction about whether they will be able to do each task, and if so, how well.

  3. How would you teach them?
    If these two learners were in your class, would you make any adjustments in the way you would teach them, based on their learning background and individual differences?  Explain.  How well do you think these learners would perform in YOUR classes?

Please type your answers to the questions in the box below.

When you have finished typing your answer, click to compare your response with the Learner Language staff response.

  1. Does topic affect accuracy, fluency or complexity? 
    Jiulin uses more accurate and complex language when talking about his language learning history than about the plot of a movie. Although there are pauses and errors in describing his language learning history, he expresses himself clearly and uses a variety of vocabulary and structures. But when it comes to the plot of the movie, he does not even understand the word “ju qing (plot)” at first and has to ask the interlocutor to clarify its meaning a few times. There are also several incomplete sentences where Jiulin gives up, possibly because of lack of essential vocabulary. He tends to use more simple sentences when talking about the plot of the movie.

    The different performances by Jiulin may be due to his familiarity with the topic. His language learning history may be a familiar topic to him, given his experiences learning foreign languages and his areas of study, which are linguistics, TESL and history. He may have talked about his language learning history several times before this interview. However, the movie plot is probably less familiar to him, particularly if it’s not a common task to discuss movie plots in class. He may not have essential vocabulary and structures to talk about this particular plot.

    AnnaLi did not talk about the plot of a movie because she said she did not watch Chinese movies at all, because they were too hard for her to understand.

  2. Can the learners do these tasks? 
    Considering their proficiency levels, the two learners may not have the vocabulary they need for tasks like narrative, jigsaw and comparison; if they don't, they are likely to use communication strategies such as switching to English or using gesture. They may also make a lot of errors.

  3. Students like Jiulin seem to be risk takers. Risk takers may produce language with complexity but with lots of errors. For students like Jiulin, scaffolding may be an effective teaching approach. The teacher can provide corrective feedback in response to errors. Also, after a speaking activity, the teacher may assign a writing task, in which they would need to monitor language use and focus more on form.

    Students like AnnaLi are more cautious about language use. They focus more on accuracy and so may tend to use less complex language features that are within their comfort zone. For students like AnnaLi, the teacher may issue challenges by assigning communicative tasks where students are supposed to focus on meaning, and where a certain number of essential structures may be required to accomplish the task. Such students may also benefit from learning communicative strategies that can be used to solve communication problems, as well as core language for authentic but challenging topics like movies and novels.


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