Utilizing Phonological Knowledge of Previously Learned African Languages to Enhance Acquisition of Chinese Phonology: A Case Study of Learners of Chinese as a Fourth Language at Confucius Institute at Kenyatta University, Africa
Njoroge, Martin C.
MetadataShow full item record
The Chinese language has been enjoying increasing popularity in Kenya, where the first Confucius Institute in Africa was established in 2005. By the time most learners of Chinese at the Confucius Institute at Kenyatta University are being exposed to the language, they have already mastered language skills in their indigenous African languages; Kiswahili and English (the official languages); and sometimes French, German or Japanese, which are taught in Kenyan schools as foreign languages. Thus the Chinese learner is already competent in over three languages, with different phonological, syntactic and morphological structures by the time he or she is being introduced to Chinese at the Institute. The thesis of this paper is that the knowledge that the learners have acquired in these three or four languages can be a useful resource in teaching of Chinese. This paper purposes to investigate how the phonological knowledge that learners of Chinese at the Confucius Institute at Kenyatta University have garnered from their acquisition/learning of English, Kiswahili and their respective first languages can be utilized by teachers at the Institute to enhance acquisition of speaking skills in Chinese. Data on which the paper is based were collected during classroom lessons of the certificate in Chinese language class in the 2010/2011 school year. The class comprised 30 students. Data were collected through a questionnaire and observation of classroom interactions to capture the information on how the teachers and learners made use of the already acquired phonological knowledge to explain and enhance understanding of phonological phenomena in Chinese, thus promoting acquisition of speaking skills in Chinese. The tenets of Selinker’s (1972) Interlanguage theory guided the analysis of data and helped in the explanation of the emerging patterns. It is hoped that the findings have shed light on the usefulness of the already acquired knowledge of first, second or third languages in promotion of language proficiency and intercultural competency in Chinese and previously learned languages.