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A Textbook-Based Study on Cultural Knowledge Acquisition in Learners of Chinese as a Foreign Language

Abstract
Language teaching usually focuses on linguistic knowledge, such as vocabulary and grammar, but that is not the whole picture for language learning. To build effective intercultural communication networks, language and culture study is fundamental. Language is the medium of cultural messages. This paper explores Chinese learners’ culture learning through their language courses. Based on cultural information provided in the textbooks (Integrated Chinese Level I & Level II), I designed a cultural knowledge questionnaire to collect data and analyze learners’ culture competence and problems when learning culture. After multiple rounds of modifications, the questionnaire was distributed to different levels of Chinese language learners, Chinese native speakers, and other language speakers at a public university in western Massachusetts. The questionnaire was also distributed to intermediate level Chinese students at a public university in Virginia. The results show differences among different levels of students and different questions, but no difference in heritage students’ performance nor in different universities. The data analysis of the questionnaire also provides insights for textbooks editors, Chinese instructors and educators. Culture learning is a continuing process that requires enough accurate and up-to-date cultural knowledge in textbooks as well as effective and appropriate teaching by instructors.
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Date
2020-09-01
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