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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The motivation for this thesis stems from my own personal decade long struggle learning Mandarin Chinese. The inherent difficulty of mastering this intricate language too often will leave students feeling bewildered, confused, frustrated, and even hopeless. Having walked down this path myself, I was inspired me to investigate how the Chinese language educational landscape could be improved. What are its shortcomings? What are its strengths? How can the journeys of future Chinese language learners be made easier?

The research investigates the ongoing discussion of native and non-native speaking teachers. Teacher surveys, student surveys, student classwork, and classroom observations are utilized to glean up close and firsthand insight into the advantages and disadvantages of a native Chinese speaking teacher versus a native English speaking teacher. The research involves native and non-native speaking Chinese language teachers in an effort to elicit organic, accurate data about teachers’ classroom habits.

The results of the experiments are not intended to “reveal the better teacher” among native and non-native speakers, rather they aim to contribute to an important discourse on the roles a native tongue plays in a foreign language classroom; a discourse that is still in its infancy. This contribution could be used by those who employ, evaluate, and administer Chinese language teachers and programs, and in turn improve the quality of Mandarin Chinese academic programs.


First Advisor

Zhijun Wang