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Investigating the teaching of Chinese aspect markers zai, zhe, le and guo – Grammar-Translation approach and a communicative approach

Issue: Vol 2 No. 1 (2016)

Journal: Researching and Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/rtcfl.22063


This paper presents a pilot study in teaching Chinese aspect markers, le, guo, zai and zhe, as a foreign language to university level learners. It firstly reviews theories of Chinese aspect, and then L2 Chinese aspect acquisition. Based on the research findings in these two areas, experimental teaching sessions are designed and delivered to two groups of beginners’ level learners using different teaching approaches: a grammar-translation approach and a communicative approach. The research results are compared, and it indicates that communicative approach is superior to grammar-translation approach in facilitating learners’ use of the markers in comprehensive context, but the results are not long lasting when no further treatment is given. Indeed, both groups show a strong tendency of following the natural acquisition order: perfective markers before imperfective markers as claimed by Bardovi-Harlig (2000). However, the results also reveal an inadequacy in the design of the teaching sessions, which will be adjusted in future studies.

Author: Qiaochao Zhang

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