Thematic Roundtable series: Teaching Chinese tones and script (Hanzi汉字)

11th December 2022

The thematic Roundtable series on teaching Chinese script and tones was held over three days (7th, 9th, 14th) in November 2022 at ANU.

Supported by the CHL Flagship program, it was the first such focused discussion on these two issues in Australia. Ten national and international scholars and teachers of modern Chinese presented their thoughts, reflections, and instructional practices.

Over 140 academics, university and school teachers, in-service and pre-service teachers, and graduate students from Australia and overseas registered for the Roundtable series, and more than 90 attended online and in-person.

Each day of the Roundtable addressed an essential issue in the teaching and learning of modern Chinese script and tones from theoretical, linguistic, pedagogical and experiential perspectives.

Roundtable 1: Teaching tones: Understanding tones in various speech production context: Pedagogical implications

This roundtable explored the nature and the instruction of tones, incorporating theoretical understanding and empirical evidence on tones, especially Tone 3, their behavior in single words and connected speech, methods of tone training in classroom instruction, and age-related issues of tone learning.

Roundtable 2: Teaching Hanzi, Handwritten or e-writing? Dilemma and option

This roundtable addressed the controversial issue of whether computer-typing Hanzi should replace handwritten Hanzi in classroom instruction. A variety of presentations on such issues as the nature of Chinese script Hanzi, successful teaching practices at the program and classroom levels, and personal teaching and learning experiences were shared.

Roundtable 3: An e-Hanzi class - Optimising Chinese language teaching: A typing primary model

This introduced ‘Typing-Digital’ Hanzi instruction, starting from the question why Hanzi typing training is an optimal model of Hanzi teaching and learning. A range of Hanzi instruction and assessment strategies as well as corresponding online activities were offered to demonstrate how to integrate Hanzi typing and e-writing training in the curriculum systematically in order to make learner’s Chinese literacy development sustainable.

This thematic Roundtable series, organised by Associate Professor Yanyin Zhang (Convenor modern Chinese language), provided a platform to discuss and explore the two arguably the most challenging as well as mesmerizing aspects of Chinese language teaching and learning.

It was an opportunity to access fresh ideas and teaching practices from acclaimed scholars and experienced frontline teachers, develop new understanding of age-old Chinese linguistic points, and question the conventional instructional approaches. Many participants responded enthusiastically to the presentations, calling them ‘revolutionary,’ ‘inspirational,’ ‘excellent,’ ‘wonderful’ and ‘totally convincing.’

Here's a glimpse of some highlights from this CHL flagship series...

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