Exploring the affordances that technology provides for heritage learners of Chinese as a foreign language (CFL): the case of online chat
Is Version Of
This thesis reports an interpretative case study investigating the use of online chat in a blended Chinese language course. The course combined online learning and face-to-face instruction at the college for heritage learners who, because of their Chinese family background, commended certain conversational skills but had limited reading and writing skills or not at all. The goal of the study was to identify the affordances of online chat perceived by heritage learners, the course instructor, and the course designer. The major research question this thesis study aimed to address was: how does online chat help heritage learners with their learning of Chinese? In this study, I worked as the co-designer and technical support person of the course, and a participant researcher. Four heritage learners were selected as representatives of heritage learners in college classrooms in the United States to participate in this study. The participants' interviews, chat logs, written assignments including reflective journals, and the researchers' observation notes were the data sources. The instructor's and the designer's perceptions of the use of online chat in this class were also examined. Research findings demonstrated that online chat was powerful in accelerating the heritage learners' learning of Chinese and in enhancing the instruction of Chinese. The chat in Pinyin appeared to scaffold heritage learners' acquisition of Chinese characters in the early stage. In addition, the application of online chat generated pedagogical innovations in the Chinese language classroom.