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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 8 Summary and Conclusions


The aims of this dissertation, as set out in Chapter 1, are as follows: 1 to explore relevant literature in order to offer a systematic analysis of the role of memorisation in (language) education in general and in relation to Chinese learners in particular; and 2 to report on a interview-based empirical study which investigates the Chinese beliefs and practices regarding text memorisation as a learning / teaching device by accessing individual voices of a group of learners and teachers. To be specifi c, the study was conducted with the following objectives in mind: 1 to further the understanding of the values of traditional Chinese education practices and Chinese perception of learning through the lens of text memorisation; 2 to provide a potential reinterpretation of the Confucian philosophy of learning and traditional language teaching practices in China in order to query to what extent they are relevant to modern language education; 3 to move beyond stereotyped and superfi cial interpretation of Chinese ways of learning by conducting in-depth interviews with a group of Chinese learners and teachers from different educational levels; 4 to offer heuristics that can yield guidance to domestic foreign language teachers as well as western-origin EFL / ESL teachers / researchers who are or will be working with Chinese learners in a intercultural communication contexts. In this concluding chapter, I will summarise what has been attempted and achieved as far as these goals are concerned, followed by discussions of peda- gogical implications and suggestions for future research....

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