Chinese as a Foreign Language essay

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The program primarily supports the local Chinese communities to maintain younger generation's heritage background, and spreading Chinese culture in the U.S. The classes are normally held two to three hours on weekends with Chinese language lessons and other traditional cultural and art activities. Most students have high levels of oral proficiency in Chinese, but needed to enhance skills in literacy. Chinese heritage schools are mainly supported by two groups: the National Council of Associations of Chinese Language Schools (NCACLS) which is founded by Taiwan or Hong Kong immigrant and heritage communities, and the Chinese School Association in the United States (CSAUS) that is connected with immigrant and heritage communities from mainland China. According to Scott McGinnis's (2005) compiled statistics, the combined enrollment of NCACLS and CSAUS was around 150,000 in 2003. The number of students in the heritage schools is larger than in other CFL programs across the U.S.

Many middle and high schools offer CFL programs as elective courses of a requirement in the curricula after AP Chinese examination lunched in 2006 by the College Board. The students enrolled in the class are mainly without Chinese background or language proficiency. The purpose of taking the class is mainly learner's personal interest of the language and culture as a selection of learning other foreign language and the student is seeking to pass the AP examination after finishing the program. The enrollment of the student in CFL program is growing more and more schools are offering the program to meet learner's needs as an option of learning other foreign language and culture.

According to the database conducted by University of Minnesota center for advanced research on language acquisition (2005), there are 640 CFL programs offered in universities and colleges. There are not many schools offer for four-year sequence of CFL programs. The ongoing development in higher education is the National Flagship Language Initiative authorized under Title VI of the Higher Education Act to establish CFL pipeline program through K-16. The flagship programs are in place at Brigham Young University, Ohio State University and University of Maryland (Wang, 2005).

There are some K-8 schools that offer CFL programs as after school programs. The students enrolled are primary from NCHF. Mostly, students in the programs are in beginner level. The reason they enrolled in the class is because of personal interest. Their goal is to engage with the target language and able to communicate verbally. The classes usually meet one hour per week. Students enrolled in the class are periodically and mostly for short-term of learning.

Learners in CFL programs

(a) Heritage learners

Between 1987 and 1995, the number of new immigrants from Asian countries to the United States became the majority ethic groups (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1998). The majority of students enrolled in CFL program are Chinese ethic related. In general, the population receives their Chinese language skills at the Chinese heritage schools that are located in most metropolitan areas across the country. The classes are offered 2-3 hours weekly, and students are taught by Chinese native speaker teachers. The class contents are not only focuses on language arts, but also the cultural and history. Parents expect the younger generation to be able to success in both languages academically in all areas of learning. They strongly encourage their children to devote massive time in learning Chinese from early childhood through teenage.

Campbell (1996) stated the heritage language learners are language minority learners who speak other language than English as first language, either because they were born in another country or because their families speak a language other than English at home. The student enrolled in a CFL program is identified as heritage learner (HL) or non-heritage learner (HL). The HL is described to have varied levels of language proficiency in Chinese language based on the cultural background. This group is usually engaged in the heritage language at home or community, and is also fluent in English. Thus, some of the HLs are fluent in speech, but lacking skills of reading and writing in Chinese language academically. The HLs is seeking to extend their language proficiency and cultural understanding to achieve the personal goal in maintaining or strengthen their own identities. They mainly attend the Chinese heritage community schools under NCACLS or CSAUS to develop their skills. The current status of the schools only offers programs from K-12. The HLs do not have equivalent level programs in higher education currently.

(b) Non-heritage learners

Non-heritage learners are non-Chinese ethical related. They are other ethic background and the majority is Caucasian in U.S. currently. Learners enrolled in CFL program are with various reasons including, self-interest in language or cultural, professional development, or school requirements. Individual learners' goals are different regarding to their preferences. They may also have different focus on specific language skill they want to achieve. The learning period for NHLs in CFL programs mostly last a few years. The age rage of the learner is wide spread. This group of learners is described as foreign language learns who enrolled in different levels in CFL program. There are more and more K-16 schools offer CFL programs as a foreign language class. It is usually offered in basic level and drill more on the oral skill in the early childhood age learners. The classes are help 1-6 hours weekly.

(c) Adoptees

Not only is the number of the CFL learners is growing, but moreover, there are an increasing number of students who are Chinese heritage adoptees in Anglo families. Numerous adopted children were brought to U.S. In their early childhood age. This population has brought needs in CFL program. Many families are enthusiastic in helping their adopted child to be able to engage Chinese language and culture regarding the awareness of their ethical background. In particularly, many parents prefer to send their children to CFL programs in early childhood age in order to help them to become bilingual in English and Chinese. Some parents try to keep the learners connected by involving the cultural activities and daily conversation with native speakers to help them keep interested in learning the language. Whereas the adoptee learners may have engaged certain degrees of language skills before they were adopted, most of them are learning Chinese as a target language as NHLs. The focus for the parents to this group tends to focus on the oral skills as essential practices. The learners are mostly enrolled in foreign language programs in different associations or institutes.

More and more studies explore the needs of HLs and NHLs in foreign language programs to establish valuable language programs in order to enhance learner's linguistic competence and move forward to professional development in applying the language (Yeh, 2008). NHLs are primary source of the enrollment in CFL under the mainstream schools. NHLs have limited or none language skills when they enrolled in the program. Their goal is to build up their language proficiency to meet their personal goals. The motivation and needs of these two groups is different toward the program based on their ethnic and cultural background and prior knowledge of the language. CFL program learners are seeking programs and curriculum that matches their needs. Educators are proposing to divide the CFL program to serve different group of learners rather than teaching the language only (Lawton & Logio, 2007).

Parental views on education

(a) Collectivist

Societies in most Asian countries are identified as collectivist where individuals are taught to be responsible for their families and also extended families are as life long personal goal. The achievement for social harmony is the cultural ideal of collectivism (Heine, 2001; Kim, Atkinson, & Yang, 1999). In collective cultures, people tend to emphasize pursuing the needs and complying with social norms of their in-group (Triandis, 1995). In particularly, Asian people are more interdependent within their in-group than their counterpart in the west. Typical societies of China, Taiwan, Japan, and Pakistan are distinguished as collectivism (Aaron & Byrne, 1997) which has influenced people's perspectives in many aspects.

Chinese culture is defined to be distinctively collectivist because of the significant impact of the philosophy of Confucius, which advocates for education as a cultivation of moral sense conduct more than delivering the knowledge only (Lu, 1997). Chinese was found to be the highest rank in society-centered orientation among American, Indian and Chinese (Singh et al., 1962). The atmosphere in the classroom is group - oriented and stresses conformity with the educators in Chinese culture. It is important to note that the lecturers hold absolute authority. Thus, based on the Confucian ideas and attitudes, the students are required to respect educators as an ethical criterion and not allowed to raise questions during the class (Scollon & Scollon, 1994).

An outstanding situation in collective cultures is that families and extended families dominate their children's education and act as mediators between students and teachers. Compared with other ethnic groups, Chinese parents tend to have high…[continue]

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