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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Theresa Austin

Second Advisor

Jerri Willett

Third Advisor

Zhijun Wang

Subject Categories

Language and Literacy Education



Due to the globalization and economic growth, both the U.S. and Chinese governments increased their investment in Chinese language education across the US, especially in K-12 schools (Shi, 2010). This rapid development demands tremendous support, especially from the research on Chinese language learning and teaching. Unfortunately the research in this area is very limited, particularly on writing in Chinese. For those whose first language is alphabetical, writing in Chinese is tremendously difficult. Learners of Chinese usually do not compose writing until intermediate high level, before which learners usually learn to decode and write Chinese characters (Ke, 1998; Shen, 2005). Therefore the research on composing in Chinese is scarce and none at the beginning level. Gee believes that writing as a form of acquisition of literacy can be practiced in a very early stage (Gee, 2012). What is it going to be like if I introduce writing into beginning level curriculum? In order to explore this question and help fill the gap of research on writing, this ethnographic case study attempts to use sociocultural theories (Cope & Kalantsz, 2000, 2009; Gee 2012; Kern, 2009; Norton, 2000; Norton & Toohey 2004) and second language teaching and genre-based pedagogies to explore writing (composing) in Chinese as form of co-construction of text by beginning level students and teacher in an urban high school. Since no research on writing at this level was found, this study is exploratory. The goal is to investigate: 1) how do student’s identities revealed in the writing process affect her investment in writing and in the learning of the target language? 2) how do beginning level student and teacher co-construct texts with different genres using Chinese as foreign language? 3) what are the intertextualities and genre moves student uses to construct her writing (Bakhtin, 1982)? The findings from this study will offer insights of creating more opportunities for learners to learn Chinese language, especially on composing in early learning stage. It is my hope that this study will contribute to the field of Chinese language learning in K-12 level.