Chinese as a Foreign Language Programs Thesis

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Chinese as a foreign language Programs:

Parental Motivation By Ethnic Group


The growth of CFL program

Learners in CFL programs11

Parental views on education15





The rapid economic growth in China has drawn international attention around the world (Congressional Research Service, 2007). It is noted that China is now playing a prominent role on the world stage. Thus, many governments and people outside of China have realized the significance of education in Chinese language and culture. Understanding Chinese culture and language is essential in business affairs and international communication across many countries in recent decades. Cornberg (2000) claimed that the effects of internationalization influence the power of language. As economic force has shifted to China, Chinese is now a new international language that can compete with English language for importance in many foreign countries.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Thesis on Chinese as a Foreign Language Programs Assignment

Chinese language generally refers to Mandarin which is the official dialect in mainland China since the mid twentieth century. Learning Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) has become a popular program from kindergarten to colleges in the U.S. As reported in the New York Times (2005), up to 50,000 students are in Chinese language programs in elementary and secondary schools in the U.S. Chmelynski (2006), also stated that CFL is a trend in foreign language programs across the U.S. And is continually growing. In the fall of 2006, the College Board added the Advanced Placement (AP) Chinese language and culture course and examination as one of the four new world language courses. This significant step began in 2003: the first AP Chinese language and culture courses nation wide were offered in 2006 followed by the exam in 2007 (the College Board, 2006).

Parents have significant impacts on children's learning. It is important to involve parents in early childhood education. As Cheng and Stark (2002) reported, parental views and attitudes play an essential role in students' academic achievement. Parental perspective towards language and culture programs is influential on students' learning. It is interesting to note that parents' cultural background or interests in the language tend to have certain degrees of impact on the students. Generally, students' family background in CFL programs can be distinguished into Chinese heritage families (CHF) and non-Chinese heritage families (NCHF). CHF are those who use Chinese as the main language at home and are culturally related. This group of people is mostly immigrants. On the other hand, the NCHF are non-Chinese speakers or have no Chinese cultural background. The Chinese programs offered in the U.S. have shifted its majority participation from heritage families to non-heritage families in recent years (Chao, 1997). More and more people choose to learn Chinese as a foreign language because of China's high influences in global economic. Moreover, in 2007, the U.S. had the largest number of adopted Chinese children since the Chinese government approved the international adoption law in 1992. Most of the children were adopted before one year of age by American families through the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) (Adopted Families, 2008). The increasing number of Chinese adopted children by American families has changed the student type enrolled in CFL programs and parents' focus regarding language skills.

However, the majority of current research has been directed at learning English as a second/foreign language (ESL/EFL) when speaking of foreign language education. Thus, this study is to explore the external learning motivation among K-5 learners enrolled in a CFL program in the U.S. with insight into parental views on the CFL program. This study was designed to gain an insight into the parental views on the CFL program at one school in Portland, Oregon, which has a successful CFL program. With insight into parents from diverse ethnicities, regarding their attitudes and expectations toward the CFL program, we can improve school's curriculum and offer professional advice to other schools and educational communities.

Statement of the problem:

The purpose of this study is to examine the motivation related to CFL for parents of students in a successful program. This research will also compare parental attitudes and objectives between diverse ethnic groups. The research will focus on investigating two dimensions: (a) motivation for sending their children to the program; and (b) long-term goals for their children's language learning and careers. The objective of the research is to gain greater understanding of parental preferences and goals for CFL programs as exhibited by CHF and NCHF in order to continually improve CFL program at the study school and other school communities.

Research questions

As discussed above, the present study is seeking to answer the following research questions:

Research Question #1:

Do CHF vs. NCHF parents have different reasons for sending their children to CFL programs?

Research Question #2:

Do CHF vs. NCHF parents have different goals for their children regarding Chinese language learning and careers?

Definition of terms

Advanced Placement Program (AP) -- High school courses that are transferable to college level course credits in various subject areas offered by the College Board since 1955.

Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) -- Language programs for teaching Chinese to learners whose first or native language is not Chinese.

English as a Second/Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) -- Programs for teaching English to learners who are non-native English language speakers.

Chinese heritage families (CHF) -- Families' cultural background is ethnic Chinese and they use Chinese as a main language.

Non-Chinese heritage families (NCHF) -- Families' cultural background is not ethnic Chinese and they speak a language or languages other than Chinese at home.


The participants selected in this research are from a private school in an urban area. The results may be different than they would be in suburban areas or rural areas.

Another related limitation is that the selected participants in this study are from an immersion language school. As such, the participants may have higher standards and expectations regarding for students' language performance. Therefore, the data collected in this study cannot be used to examine the larger population that has children enrolled in the traditional CFL classes in the U.S. generally.

The data collected from the participants may have a greater number of responses from one gender. While the survey will be distributed to all parents whose child/children are enrolled in Chinese program, the response rate may differ by gender. This could bias findings from the data.

The ratio of the ethnicities of the participants may be unbalanced in the study sample since the school has more parents of Caucasian ethnicity than parents of Asian background.


I will not consider the variables of student gender, country of birth, or ethnic background from the data collected in this study.


Review of the literature

This literature review discusses three dimensions of my research of CFL programs. First, I will review the growing number of CFL learners in recent years that has brought attention to foreign language programs in general. Second, I will distinguish between heritage and non-heritage learners, which will demonstrate different needs in learning. Third, I will explore the effect of cultural background on different views of education. Thus, this paper summarizes the effects of the growing CFL movement, the learners' ethnicities and the families' cultural influences on the learning in the CFL programs.

The growth of CFL program

There are more and more schools eager to offer CFL programs and seeking to receive more support and resources in order to develop the program in the regular curriculum. Government officials and school educators are achieving the outcome of improving Chinese language skills and to understand the cultural competency in their professional skills in the future. It is also important to note that the Department of Defense took the action of supporting total grants of $1.7 million to the flagship program at the University of Oregon on developing the AP Chinese program in K-16 education in Portland, Oregon. (Portland Business Journal, 2006). Both the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOTCFL, or Hanban) and the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China have invested a lot of funds and development to expand the CFL programs in the U.S. In recent years. Also, the Asia Society, a nonprofit educational organization is promoting to expand the Chinese language learning opportunities in American mainstream schools in the U.S. Their goal is to achieve five percent of American high school students enrolled in CFL programs by 2015 (Stewart & Wang, 2005).

At present, CFL programs are offered in three natural dimensions at schools in the U.S. They are generally divided into: (a) Chinese heritage community schools, (b) CFL as foreign language elective in schools and universities, and (c) after school programs.

Chinese heritage community schools are mainly offered for the students who are ethnic Chinese, or use Chinese language as a main language at home. The Chinese language schools across many metro cities in the United States mainly served Chinese immigrants after World War II (Chao, 1997). The mission of these schools is to help Chinese communities… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Chinese as a Foreign Language Programs.  (2009, September 29).  Retrieved October 17, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Chinese as a Foreign Language Programs."  29 September 2009.  Web.  17 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Chinese as a Foreign Language Programs."  September 29, 2009.  Accessed October 17, 2021.