An Exploration on the Teaching of Chinese Relative Clause Construction

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Many legitimate pedagogical methodologies, e.g., the direct method, the natural method, the communicative method, and etc., assert that grammar can be acquired by students themselves with extensive reading and practice, and do not suggest the conventions of the grammar be explicitly taught in class. However, as a language teacher, without any awareness of grammar convention in mind, teaching would be disorder and unsystematic. Therefore, there has always been some midst of how to teach grammar among language teachers. In addition, since it has been generally accepted by many linguists and teachers that first language plays an important role in the process of second language acquisition, to deeply understand the syntax difference between the target language and students’ native language will help language teachers to focus on the difficulties of grammar students encounter in second language learning. In this research, I choose relative clause construction in Mandarin as a grammar point to observe how the first language influences the second language learning, and to further explore the effective grammar teaching methods in Chinese language class. By analyzing the feedback of the questionnaire that is designed to seek for proficiency of American students who are taking the second year Chinese class in Chinese relative clauses, I argue that the pronoun retention in relative clauses, relative NPs as obliques in main sentences and relative NPs as existential subjects in main sentences are three main difficulties for the American students. Accordingly, teaching relative clauses should be systematic: relative clauses other than the three difficult patterns should be taught earlier. Teaching relatively clauses should not be isolated from other grammar patterns, i.e. word order.


Keywords: Relative Clause Construction, Grammar Teaching Methods, L1 Influences on L2
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Fangqiong Zhan

Graduate Student, Department of Asian Languages
Stanford, California, USA

I am currently a PhD student in Department of Asian Languages at Stanford, and intend to pursue a Master's degree in School of Education at Stanford. I am interested in the process of acquiring Chinese as a second language, especially the acquisition of syntax. I want to classify the specific syntactical difficulties learners encounter and to develop pedagogical methodologies designed to help them to meet these challenges. I am also interested in language textbook editing and curriculum design. I have been a Chinese language instructor on and off for more than five years and have compiled two Chinese intermediate textbooks.

Ref: L08P0594