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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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Appendix 1: General Questionnaire and Interview Schedule for Learners Part I Background information 1. Name: _______; Age _______; Sex _______; Years of learning English _______ 2. Home Province and City __________________ 3. English Scores on Final exams last term _______ / _______ 4. English Score on Senior High School Entrance Examination (if applicable) _______ / _______ 5. English Score on National English Matriculation test (if applicable) _______ / _______ 6. English Scores on IELTS (if applicable) _______ / _______ 7. How do you rate your English profi ciency as compared with the profi ciency of other students in your class? Good Fair Poor 8. Telephone: _____________ Email: _____________ Part II Questionnaire (Please mark the number which best indicates your true feeling.) 1. How much does text memorisation help in your English learning? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Very much 2. How do you see the process of text memorisation? Boring 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Interesting 192 3. Is it necessary for text memorisation to continue to be practiced in English learning in China? Absolutely not necessary 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 absolutely necessary Part III Interview guide 1. Could you recall your experience of learning English through text memorisation? • When and how did you begin to use text memorisation in English learning? • Did you continue to use it afterwards? 2. What is your overall opinion on text memorisation? • What is your comment on the metaphor ‘good medicine that tastes bitter’ or ‘a thorny rose’ (quoted in Ding, 2004)? • To quote one students, ‘If I recited...

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