Non-Chinese-speakers seen to lack motivation in class

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 April, 2008, 12:00am
 

Teachers in local schools with non-Chinese-speaking students perceive them as lacking motivation to learn and do not know how to teach them, a University of Hong Kong study has found.

'From our interviews we discovered teachers believe these students don't have any motivation to learn,' said Linda Tsung Tiehua, assistant professor of education and one of three academics behind the study.

'In our classroom observations we saw that they find it very hard to control the class and the students don't concentrate on their learning.'

Speaking at a conference on minority language education in China at HKU last Saturday, Dr Tsung said the students' lack of motivation stemmed from two key factors.

'They can't see the relevance to their own lives. Perhaps the teaching material is not relevant; perhaps they don't see in their future that they will need Chinese.

'Another issue is the students find Chinese too difficult. It is very boring for them to learn.'

The study involved assessment and interviews with 189 non-Chinese-speaking students at five schools, plus interviews with teachers and parents between last July and last month. The project was funded by the Education Bureau as part of preparation of the long-awaited supplementary guide for adapting the Chinese curriculum to meet needs of non-Chinese-speaking students.

Consultation on a first draft of the guide concluded last month and the final version is due to be released by the middle of the year.

Dr Tsung said there was a clear message from teachers that they needed more training and support in developing more effective teaching strategies for these students.

'We have to improve our methodology to make the learning more interesting, more enjoyable for them. I believe no language is difficult to learn. If you have the mindset that you want to learn then it is no longer so difficult to learn.

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