Publication Details

Gao, X. (2014). Motivations, learning activities and challenges: learning Mandarin Chinese in Australia. In C. Travis, J. Hajek, C. Nettelbeck, E. Beckmann and A. Lloyd-Smith (Eds.), Practices and Policies: Current Research in Languages and Cultures Education: Selected Proceedings of the Second National LCNAU Colloquium Canberra, 3-5 July 2013 (pp. 169-192). Australia: LCNAU.

Link to publisher version (URL)

LCNAU – Languages & Cultures

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9781921944918


Mandarin Chinese is ane of the priority languages in the Australian Government's {2012} 'Australia in the Asian Century' White Paper. However the number of Australian learners of Mandarin remains the smallest among six commonly taught foreign languages in Australia. What are Australian learners' motivations and preferred learning activities for learning Mandarin Chinese? What challenges do teachers face when promoting this language? To answer these questions, this study conducted surveys with 149 school students and with 18 principals and language teachers in New South Wales. Results show that the Australian students' study of Mandarin was primarily driven by extrinsic motivation although intrinsic interests in Chinese language and culture played a certain role. The students prefered collaborative and multifaceted learning activities which involve multiple verbal and visual modes. Offering and teaching Mandarin in schools is challenged by a lack of qualified teachers, teaching resources, funding, professional guidance and opportunities to establish national and international collaboration. The findings suggest that it is necessary to reinforce the role of agencies at the meso level which bridge policy makers at the macro level and policy implementers at the micro level, respectively.