Prospects for Evidence-Based L2 Chinese Teaching Practice in Sweden: A Progression Sequence Analysis of Grammatical Items in Chinese Textbooks
Abstract: This study was motivated by the current vulnerable status of Chinese taught as a second language in Swedish gymnasium education, calling for further knowledge on how theories on second language (L2) acquisition can benefit instruction on L2 Chinese. Since language textbooks often constitute the curriculum in Swedish classrooms, two Chinese textbooks were targeted for analysis in terms of the sequencing of grammatical content in relation to learner readiness. The analysis was operationalized through the framework of Processability Theory (PT), a language acquisition theory hypothesizing a predetermined, incremental acquisition order of syntax and morphology for language learners that instruction cannot override. Formal instruction following this sequence has proven to have a positive effect on the rate of learning and acquisition, implicating that instruction content in textbooks should be sequenced in alignment with the predicted order in favor of effectiveness and learnability. The two textbooks Lai ba! and Zhongwen Haoxue 1 were analysed in terms of their alignment with the learner progression sequence predicted by a PT-derived hierarchy of Chinese grammatical content. The findings from Lai ba! concluded that the targeted content in the textbook aligned with the sequence order of the PT-hierarchy, while the targeted content in Zhongwen Haoxue 1 were found to deviate from the predicted order. Within the limited scope of this study, PT determines the findings of the input of the former to be learnable while the input of the latter is not, provided instruction exclusively follows the sequence of contents determined by the progression in the textbooks. However, the study concluded that the data sample was too small to elicit any definite conclusions. In order to enable conclusions applicable to classroom practice and textbook usage, the theoretical implications of these findings require more empirical support from studies combining research on instruction input and learner production output.
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