Developing a pedagogical framework for teaching Chinese aspect markers le, guo, zai and zhe - a comparative study of the Grammar-Translation approach and a communicative approach

  • Qiaochao Zhang

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The L2 acquisition of Chinese aspect markers has been investigated by many researchers (Sun, D. 1993; Zhao, L. 1996; Wen, X. 1997; Teng, S. 1999; Li, D. and Duff 1998, Duff and Li, D. 2002; Jin, L. and Hendriks 2005; Ma, L. 2006). Their studies show two main findings, one is the acquisition order of the aspect markers, and the other is the accuracy in using the aspect markers. Among those, only Duff and Li, D. (2002) mentioned the effect of teaching on the accuracy of using Chinese aspect. However, it is unknown what impacts teaching methods/approaches could have on learners’ use of the aspect markers. This thesis aims to contribute to filling that gap. It explores whether a specific teaching framework assists the learning of Chinese aspect markers by L2 learners. We designed a session of Chinese aspect following the acquisition order of the Chinese aspect markers suggested by previous studies. The session was delivered to two groups of beginner level learners in a UK university using different teaching approaches. One is the Grammar-Translation approach, which focuses on learning of aspectual forms, and the other is a communicative approach, which focuses on comprehension. The learners took a pre-test assessing their general knowledge of Chinese, an immediate test after the teaching session on aspect to compare the immediate impact of teaching approaches, and a post-test after two months to trace the lasting effect the teaching approaches. The results show that the Grammar-Translation approach leads to better accuracy levels than communicative approach in using aspects in grammatical tasks, whereas the communicative approach does not necessarily lead to learners’ better use of aspect than the grammar-translation approach in comprehension tasks.
    Date of Award28 Nov 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorEmmanuelle Labeau (Supervisor)


    • Chinese aspect markers
    • Grammar-Translation approach
    • communicative approach
    • L2 acquisition and teaching

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