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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 7 Perceptions and Practices of Text Memorisation across Educational Levels: Commonalities and Diversities

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In the previous two chapters, I reported on fi ndings from in-depth interviews regarding how text memorisation is perceived by Chinese learners / teach- ers as a whole. In this chapter, I will present my data with a view to delving into some commonalities and diversities of the Chinese learners / teachers’ practices and perceptions of text memorisation across three educational levels in an attempt to address the last specifi c question set out at the onset of the study (see 1.4 and 4.1). Data provided in this chapter were drawn from both the interviews and questionnaire surveys. Qualitative narratives from the interview data will be buttressed by quantitative description. I will begin this chapter by examining the learners’ perceptions of text memorisation across the different educational levels, and then, continue the discussion with a focus on the teacher group. Finally, by way of conclusion, I will summarise the fi ndings that emerged from the examination of the different educational levels. 7.1 Perceptions across three educational levels: Student group This section reports the results of re-examination of data across three educa- tional levels with a focus on student participants. 7.1.1 Attitudes towards the use of text memorisation in English learning The learners’ overall attitudes towards the use of text memorisation in their English learning, as expressed in responses to questionnaire item No.1 (see Appendix 1, Part II), are presented in Figure 7.1 in the form of bar charts. A breakdown of the learners’ attitudes by educational level is displayed in...

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