The Effect of a Content-Oriented, Task-based Approach for Advanced CFL Curriculum: Fostering Form and More
As Chinese as foreign or second (CFL/CSL) language learners continue their study into advanced levels, their motivation in the pursuit of advanced linguistic development in Chinese is usually entwined with their desire to pursue a deeper and broader understanding of the target culture and the development of their professional profiles. Curriculum design and pedagogy for an advanced CFL course must be tailored to learning needs and strive for an intellectual connection with Chinese area studies as the majority of the learners in advanced CFL course have a background in China-related subjects. Based on a needs analysis and feedback collected from learners, this paper investigates the effect of a content-oriented, task-based approach implemented in a curriculum model designed for an advanced Chinese course in an American university. The goals and objectives of the curriculum are determined by referring to the Proficiency Guidelines established by the ACTFL (American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages) and the Standards for Foreign Language Learning (i.e. Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities). Drawing research from content-based instruction (CBI) and task-based approach in Second Language Acquisition and language teaching, the paper will evaluate the curriculum by looking at the syllabus and the materials designed to facilitate CFL/CSL teaching and learning in a social and cultural context. Using stimulating content in subject matter as a vehicle to engage learners in appropriate language-focused follow-up activities supports contextualized learning rather than learning language as isolated fragments. The method of integrating CBI and a task-based approach will be demonstrated through lesson plans and a series of instructional activities that incorporate online multimedia resources into reading materials in different theme-based units such as Cultural Traditions, History and Politics. Students can develop a wider understanding of the subject matter through CBI as they evaluate information taken from different sources. The online multimedia learning resources and task-based activities are delivered through a scaffolding process so as to cultivate students’ listening competencies through both top-down and bottom-up strategies while exploring the depth of the subject matter. The course is concluded with a final project that aims at synergizing students holistic academic skills and helping them develop advanced reading and writing competencies in Chinese for academic purposes. The learners’ responses to the content-oriented, task-based approach for the advance Chinese curriculum will be evaluated through rubrics, surveys and interviews. The content-oriented and task-based instruction can optimize teaching and learning advanced Chinese as foreign and second language.