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EDUC 5176 Interactions for Languages Education Assessment 2: Critical Review Man Jin 110158709

Critical review of learning resource and possible ways to improve

Recently, there is a common consensus that teaching and learning Chinese as second or foreign
language (CSL/CFL) needs to be understood and implemented from an intercultural perspective in
Australian secondary schools. As the basis for language and cultural input, the ways that a textbook
represents linguistic features, culture, communication and learning process have a momentous
impact on second language learners and their learning experience (Scrimgeour 2016). Therefore, it
is critical that textbooks reflect the five principles for intercultural language teaching and learning in
terms of active construction, making connections, interaction, reflection and responsibility (Scarino
& Liddicoat 2009, p. 35). This essay will firstly review and analyse a section from a Chinese
textbook from an intercultural teaching and learning perspective and in relation to the content and
structure of the Australian Curriculum (AC). Then, there will be a discussion about ways of
implementing the activities in an intercultural way to enhance learning outcomes.

Review and analyse the section in the textbook


The section to be analysed is chosen from chapter 5 in the textbook Learn Chinese with Me, Book 3
which is one of a series of four textbooks designed for year 10 or 11 nonnative learners in
secondary schools in English speaking countries. The textbook is published by People's Education
Press of PRC. The topic of the chapter is Diet and Health and there are four sections in the chapter.
The chosen section is the first in the chapter with the title of I have brought the recipe. In general,
there are three main texts in the section including a recipe, a dialogue and a short passage.
Additionally, some exercises are provided intentionally for reading and listening comprehension,
oral practice as well as a class activity is offered to improve writing skills. Allied to this, there is a
bit in this section contains a Chinese idiom, an ancient story and an ancient poem. These key
elements will be analysed from an intercultural perspective and in relation to AC respectively.

Firstly, a recipe of a Chinese dish with English translation underneath presents on the first page with
the title of Getting Started and a sentence of instruction in English (see Appendix 1). It is
demonstrated in the year 10 band description in Australian Curriculum for Chinese as second
language that students are encouraged to explore a range of genres including procedural text
(ACARA 2010). A recipe is one of the typical procedure texts that may be used for students to
analyse and explore the text structures and language feature which can be seen in the strand of
understanding under curriculum content description (ACARA 2010). Allied to this, an English
version of the recipe is provided underneath which is directly translated from the Chinese one with

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EDUC 5176 Interactions for Languages Education Assessment 2: Critical Review Man Jin 110158709

the same content and structure. There is also a picture of the complete dish giving a visual image of
the final product. It seems that there is an intention of engaging learners through giving direct
instruction in English, providing translation of the text in learners' first language and use visual aid.
However, looking at the content of texts more in detail, it seems that the language used in the recipe,
content of dialogue and passage are modified in a way that are not commonly used in real life but
for the purpose of showing and emphasizing on grammatical functions and new vocabulary. For
example, in the cooking method part of recipe, '' frequently appears at the beginning of the
sentence (see Appendix 1) which seldom can be seen in a real Chinese recipe. This means that the
language and texts that learners engaged in may not necessarily be encountered in their real life.

Moreover, the instruction 'read the following recipe and then tell how to cook this dish' may fail to
encourage learners active construction because the purpose of the activity is not introduced and it
makes no sense that the student who reads the recipe then be able to tell the way of cooking a dish.
Similarly, the instruction for the second text (dialogue) gives simple context of the dialogue and the
third text (passage) follows a close question 'Can you cook Chinese food?'. It is obvious that there
are no discussion about the topic, content, concepts either before or after the main texts as well as
explicit instruction for learning goals and process which may lead to learners difficulty to construct
knowledge actively and connect to language presented and language learning. Furthermore, The
topic in Chinese only on the top of the page shows neither the main focus of the section nor the
description of the context. In this case, learners may find it difficult to make connection with
learning materials, between their prior learning experience with new information as well as have
their own interpretation of the teaching and learning content (Skene 2013, p.51). It seems that
although there is an intention of engaging learners in the textbook, to some extent, the title and first
text fail to represent language and language learning from an intercultural perspective.

In addition, the arrangement of class exercises seems irrational in some ways. Firstly, the
instructions of the exercises are not clear. For example, in order to complete the matching exercise,
students require to get the information from 'the text' (see Appendix 2). However, there are three
texts on previous pages and there is no directly instruction about which text should be read for this
exercise. Secondly, it seems that some exercises can be done without understanding the language.
For instance, the conversation practice asks students to do a pair work of oral dialogue according to
the given example with only one word underlined and three optional words to replace the
underlined word. This means that when doing this oral practice, students only need to read the

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EDUC 5176 Interactions for Languages Education Assessment 2: Critical Review Man Jin 110158709

sentence and change one word with other words. There is neither learning and understanding of the
language in it nor real interaction involved in the exercise through which learners may not interact,
communicate and connect interculturally with others to develop their own understanding of the
relationship with other and learning experience (Liddicoat & Scarino 2013). Furthermore, the
textbook represent culture in a isolated and meaningless way. The Chinese idiom, ancient story and
poem are provided as additional information which are not related to the topic and the focused
language functional usage. This may make learners confused about the purpose of learning the
idiom and reading the story and poem.

Ways to improve
There are some ways to adjust and enhance the textbook from an intercultural perspective. In order
to promote intercultural language learning, five principles can be considered as a starting point for
pedagogical practice and a base for engaging learners in language learning (Kohler 2015; Liddicoat
& Scarino 2013). Firstly, there should be discussion about the topic, purpose of learning and
expectations of teacher and themselves before students move to the texts. During the discussion,
students may activate their prior knowledge in terms of vocabulary, genre understanding of English
etc. as well as share their initial understanding of the topic. This offers students opportunities to
make connections with learning content, with other students and between their prior knowledge and
new information.

Secondly, various learning resources and materials such as real Chinese recipes, English recipes,
videos of cooking presenting and the transcripts could be used to encourage intercultural language
learning. With these materials, students may compare Chinese language and English language used
in the same context, explore language features of a particular genre, recipe as a procedure text, as
well as differences between the language used in oral and written form of procedure text. These
language learning processes are covered in the content description of understanding of systems of
language in Australian Curriculum for year 10 Chinese learners (ACARA 2010). Through the
comparison and exploration, students may engage in active and purposeful interaction with others
and making meaning and interpreting as active construction (Scarino & Liddicoat 2009, p. 35).

Furthermore, in addition to the close questions as comprehension exercise, more open ended
questions should be provided as tools for students think critically about their own language and
culture identities compared with the language and culture revealed in the texts and learning
materials. Open ended questions can also offer opportunities for learners to reflect on their learning

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EDUC 5176 Interactions for Languages Education Assessment 2: Critical Review Man Jin 110158709

process and experience, learn to learn and enhance self-direction language learning, which may help
develop and improve their metalinguistic awareness and skills (Liddicoat 2000, p. 13; Wang et al.
2009, p. 48 ) and help learners achieve intercultural language learning through reflection and taking
responsibility of their learning.

Moreover, based on the topic and language focus of this section, the final task could be consist of an
pair work on written recipe and presenting of the recipe and short passage about introducing the
dish presented which can be shared with their peers and Chinese counterparts through internet. In
the process of the task, learners may collaborate with others, negotiate and share opinion in a
purpose and meaningful way. They may also build understanding of their own linguistic and
cultural identities through interacting with peers in the community of target language. Therefore,
intercultural language learning may be promoted due to learners active construction, multiple
connections and purposeful interaction internally and with others.

In conclusion, because of the fundamental role of textbooks in language teaching and learning, it is
essential to use and interpret textbook and learning materials from an intercultural perspective. The
chosen section in the textbook Learn Chinese with Me shows intention of engaging learners and
providing support for language learning. However, inexplicit introduction, ineffective exercise and
isolated cultural information may lead to negative language learning experience and outcomes.
Therefore, learning materials and resources should be enriched and purposeful communication,
interaction and reflection need to be provided to promote intercultural language learning. It implies
that the five core principles should be considered throughout the process of planning and
implementing teaching and learning to encourage positive learning experience and outcome.

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EDUC 5176 Interactions for Languages Education Assessment 2: Critical Review Man Jin 110158709

References
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 2010, Chinese-second
language learner pathway, Australian Curriculum, viewed 25 October 2016,
<http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/languages/chinese/curriculum/second-language-learner-pa
thway/7-10?layout=1>

Kohler, M 2015, 'Understanding of language and culture in language teaching and learning',
Teachers as mediators in the foreign language classroom, Multilingual Matters, UK, pp. 17-38.

Liddicoat, AJ 2000, 'Learning a language, learning about language, and learning to be literate',
Babel, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 12-15.

Liddicoat, AJ & Scarino, A 2013, Intercultural language teaching and learning, John Wiley & Sons,
Somerset, New Jersey.

Scarino, A & Liddicoat, AJ 2009, Teaching and Learning Languages: A Guide, Curriculum Corp,
Melbourne.

Scrimgeour, A 2016, 'Evaluating textbooks: interactions 2016', lecture notes distributed in EDUC
5176 at The University of South Australia, Adelaide in SP5 2016.

Skene, C 2013, 'Investigating reciprocal meaning-making as an element of intercultural language


learning in the languages classroom', Babel, vol. 48, no. 2&3, pp. 48-60.

Wang, J, Spencer, K & Xing, M 2009, 'Metacognitive beliefs and strategies in learning Chinese as a
foreign language, System, vol. 37, pp. 46-56.

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EDUC 5176 Interactions for Languages Education Assessment 2: Critical Review Man Jin 110158709

Appendix 1: Three main texts

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EDUC 5176 Interactions for Languages Education Assessment 2: Critical Review Man Jin 110158709

Appendix 2: Exercise and culture information