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Home Journal Index 2020-1

Narrative Inquiry into Online Teaching of Chinese Characters during the Pandemic

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Qi Zhang

Dublin City University, Ireland



Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, a large number of third-level institutes have had to transfer all teaching and learning activities online. This inevitable and urgently needed remote teaching is likely to lead to difficulties in the study of Chinese characters for beginner learners. Due to the pictographic origin and logographic nature of Chinese script, previous research shows the write-to-read effect and the importance of handwriting-to-character recognition. However, the nature of online learning suggests that all pedagogical practices will have to rely on digital input rather than pen and paper, which minimises the opportunities for handwriting. Furthermore, the worldwide crisis has also led to a lack of time and resources needed to develop a well-paced online curriculum that allow beginner learners to acquire characters while developing their character typing skills. Building upon narrative inquiry, this study explores the approach to studying Chinese characters during the pandemic. It first examines the challenges of teaching and learning Chinese characters online, and then reflects on the first-hand experience of teaching characters online among five CFL teachers based in Ireland and the UK. This study finds that a structured approach seems to benefit the teaching of Chinese characters. Knowledge of Chinese characters should also be explicitly incorporated into online teaching. The study will be one of the first contributing to the design and delivery of online teaching of Chinese characters in the context of a crisis scenario.



Chinese as a Foreign Language, Chinese characters, online teaching, narrative inquiry