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Strategies of Teaching Chinese to Japanese and Korean Students in North America 


Jing Wang

Dalhousie University, Canada



This paper discusses strategies for teaching the Chinese language to Japanese/Korean L1 learners in North America. Compared to European language L1 learners, Japanese and Korean L1 students have a unique set of advantages in learning Chinese not only due to the influence of classical Chinese on Japanese and Korean writing systems but also their bilingual background. Both their native language (Japanese/Korean) and second language (English) are among the key factors that affect their acquisition of Chinese. This paper explores how to maximize these students’ existing language knowledge for Chinese language learning. First, employing the language transfer theory, this paper discusses how a contrastive analysis between the learners’ L1 (Korean/Japanese) or L2 (English) and the target language (Chinese) is particularly necessary for developing effective teaching/ learning strategies. By comparing the commonalities and differences between the three East Asian languages in question, this paper then examines both positive and negative transfer of the Japanese/ Korean L1 learners’ native language and L2 (English) on Chinese language learning in such aspects as pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Through the investigation, it reveals that the adoption of the Chinese script not only introduced a large number of Chinese words to the Japanese and Korean languages, but also impacted the native development of these two languages, which facilitated the learning of Chinese for native speakers of Japanese and Korean languages. Meanwhile, the differences between Chinese and the learners’ L1 (Japanese/Korean) as well as L2 (English) also pose special challenges. The paper concludes with suggestions for more effective Chinese teaching/learning methods based on an examination of the language transfer so as to maximize positive transfer and minimize negative transfer.



Language transfer, Japanese, Korean, L1, teaching methods