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dc.contributor.advisorZhao, Xiaohuan
dc.contributor.advisorHatfield, Hunter
dc.contributor.advisorNiven, Brian E.
dc.contributor.authorLow, Hiang Loon
dc.identifier.citationLow, H. L. (2012). Towards a Chinese vocabulary list for learners of Mandarin as a foreign language at tertiary level in Malaysia : a needs-based study. (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractThis study aims to find solutions for the problems of ‘how much vocabulary’ and ‘what vocabulary’ when creating curriculum for the learning of Mandarin as a Foreign Language (hereafter MFL). Both the HSK Vocabulary List (1992) and the revised New HSK Vocabulary Lists (2009–2010) were compiled for the purposes of Chinese proficiency tests; however, these lists were not designed to account for the specific local language needs of MFL learners. To overcome the limitations of the HSK Vocabulary Lists, this study has conducted a thorough vocabulary needs analysis, based upon the Hutchinson and Waters’ target situation analysis framework (1992 [1987]) and Nation’s vocabulary needs analysis framework (2001), to identify the vocabulary needs of MFL learners in Malaysia. Four primary areas are studied through the target situation analyses: (1) why, how, when and where Mandarin is used, (2) vocabulary sizes for different proficiency levels, (3) vocabulary learning resources and (4) Mandarin language goals. Questionnaires were used as the primary research instrument to conduct a large scale vocabulary NA. Questionnaires were carefully designed to meet the criteria of construct and content validity, reliability and practicality. Student questionnaires were filled out by 2,534 university MFL learners in Malaysia. Teacher questionnaires were completed by 26 Malaysian MFL instructors and 24 Chinese MFL experts from mainland China, for comparative purposes. The findings reveal that more than 80% of the students aimed to speak basic Mandarin in order to improve their job prospects, to interact with their future clients at the workplace and to communicate with their Mandarin-speaking friends. UiTM learners (medium of instruction: Pinyin) generally required approximately three contact hours compared to the Non-UiTM learners (medium of instruction: Chinese characters) who preferred an average of approximately five hours. However, the UiTM learners requested a higher entry level vocabulary size at 511 words and a higher ultimate vocabulary size at 2,144 words, in contrast to the Non-UiTM students who requested 458 and 1,738 words, respectively. In terms of vocabulary learning resources, learners prioritised daily vocabulary and workplace vocabulary, but not business vocabulary. Working Mandarin or Workplace Mandarin focuses on ‘gathering information for a job’, ‘attending job interviews’, ‘interacting with clients at work’, and so forth, while Business Mandarin emphasises items such as ‘negotiating business agreements’, ‘signing contracts’ and ‘marketing’. A factor analysis for all respondents on 30 possible language goals reduced these goals to six dimensions. Very significant differences of perceptions were identified between students and teachers for ‘job-related language needs’. Students perceived the abilities ‘to get information for a job’, ‘to speak some Mandarin when attending a job interview’, and ‘to interact with Mandarin-speaking clients in future workplaces’ as very important, but teachers did not. One conclusion is that learners’ isolated ‘job-related language needs’ should be emphasised in syllabi so that learners are equipped with basic speaking skills for different work settings. Regarding theoretical implications, this study presents a country-specific vocabulary needs analysis framework for elementary MFL learners at tertiary level. With this framework, all of the procedures can be replicated by other researchers to identify vocabulary needs of MFL learners in other circumstances.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectneeds analysis
dc.subjectChinese vocabulary list
dc.subjectMandarin as a foreign language
dc.subjecttarget situation analysis
dc.subjectDaily Mandarin
dc.subjectWorkplace Mandarin
dc.titleTowards a Chinese vocabulary list for learners of Mandarin as a foreign language at tertiary level in Malaysia : a needs-based study.
dc.language.rfc3066en of Languages and Cultures of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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