• Chinese writing composition among CFL learners: A comparison between handwriting and typewriting

      Zhang, Qi; Min, Ge (Elsevier, 2019-09-20)
      Situated in the context of CFL (Chinese as a foreign language), the current study examines and compares texts produced by twelve pre-intermediate CFL learners using both pen-and-paper and the pinyin input system. The participants were also invited for interviews to investigate their attitudes towards handwriting and typewriting. Because of the ease of use of the pinyin input system, CFL learners tend to prefer it over writing by hand when composing lengthy texts. Based on the evaluations of fifteen professional CFL teachers, the typewritten texts were rated higher than the handwritten ones. Using the self-report empathy test, there was no significant correlation between an evaluator’s empathy and his/her rating for the texts, whether composed by hand or with pinyin input. Pedagogically, typewriting might better assist Chinese language learning after handwriting has been introduced and practised among non-beginner CFL learners. The empathy effect on handwriting reported in previous literature is not found in the study. The study goes beyond the factors influencing typewriting and typewritten essays, to encourage future research investigating when to introduce computer-based writing and how it would best assist in language learning.
    • Square dancing: A multimodal analysis of the discourse in the People’s Daily

      Zhang, Qi; Min, Ge (2019-07-12)
      Square dancing, guangchangwu in Chinese, is a kind of physical activity practiced in flat public spaces for fitness and entertainment. Despite its popularity all over China, there have been news reports on conflicts caused by it, such as noise pollution or use of a public square. This study collects 150 news articles published between May 2016 and May 2018 containing the keyword guangchangwu from the People’s Daily, one of the most influential official newspapers owned by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The purpose of the study is to investigate the government’s attitudes towards square dancing through an analysis of the official media discourse, using word frequency of occurrence and multimodal discourse analysis. Both the word count and the co-deployment of visual and linguistic resources indicate that square dancing is perceived as an integral part of promoting the national fitness agenda. While the discourse demonstrates awareness of square dancing in the context of an aging society and a shortage of public space, general approval for it is still quite evident in the frequent positive descriptions in the text and presentations in the images. The use of the word dama ‘big mama’ in the official media discourse reveals gender inequality in contemporary China.