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Text Memorisation in Chinese Foreign Language Education

Xia Yu

In China, a widespread learning practice for foreign languages are reading, reciting and memorising texts. This book investigates this practice against a background of Confucian heritage learning and western attitudes towards memorising, particularly audio-lingual approaches to language teaching and later largely negative attitudes. The author conceptually examines a number of issues central to the understanding of the practice of text memorisation in the Chinese educational context. Furthermore, there is an empirical inquiry into Chinese learners/teachers’ practices and perceptions of the inclusion of text memorisation in foreign language learning and teaching. Drawing on heuristics yielded by both theoretical and empirical findings, this study promotes a ‘different-rather-than-deficit’ perspective in understanding Chinese learners and their learning practice by way of challenging the uncritical assumptions about the negative impact of a Confucian philosophy of education. More importantly, the topic and theme discussed in this book are timely and relevant to some long and widely debated issues in foreign language teaching and learning within China and internationally.

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CHAPTER 6 Teachers’ Perceptions of the Use of Text Memorisation in Foreign Language Teaching

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In this chapter, I will continue the empirical investigation, as proposed in Chapter 4, with a focus on teachers’ views on the use of text memorisation as a pedagogical device. There has been a lack of empirical study of how text memorisation is perceived from the perspective of teaching, the present study therefore addresses this gap in literature by accessing the voice of a group of Chinese teachers from three educational levels. This chapter is structured as follows: 6.1 Participants, instruments and data analysis; 6.2 Findings; and 6.3 Conclusion. Particular informa- tion concerning methodology will be briefl y introduced or reiterated in section 6.1 given that the approaches to eliciting data from the teacher participants are somewhat different from that from learner participants (see Appendices 1 & 2). 6.1 Participants, instruments and analysis This section will provide detailed accounts of methodology in terms of participants, approaches to interviews and data analysis. 6.1.1 Participants The participants in the teacher interview survey were 20 language teachers from three educational levels, i.e. junior high school, senior high school and college / university. They ranged from 24 to 65 years in age with the major- ity in their twenties and thirties; the average age was 35. Their experience in teaching English varied from 1 to 43 years, with an average of 11 years. At the time of the study, 7 participants were teaching in junior high schools, 5 in senior high schools and the remaining 8 were from universities. The 7 teachers at the junior...

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