History and current trends of teaching Cantonese as a foreign language : investigating approaches to teaching and learning Cantonese
This thesis uses documentary analysis and historical research methodology to trace the history and development of Teaching Cantonese as a Foreign Language (TCFL), and examine the textbooks developed and teaching approaches used. It also uses empirical research tools, such as questionnaire surveys, interviews and diary studies, to elicit current learners' needs, and then it attempts to examine whether the textbooks and approaches used can satisfy learners' needs. Historical data shows that TCFL started in the 17th century by European missionaries and traders and was developed further in Hong Kong by missionaries and government officials. Learning materials and textbooks developed from early phrasebooks/dictionaries to textbooks with different teaching approaches, such as grammatical approach, grammar-translation approach, repetition and drilling approaches and functional-situational approaches. The historical data also shows that the background and needs of the learners have been changing over time and recent learners' backgrounds and needs have become more complex. Nowadays learners of CFL come from different parts of the world and from different professional fields. Their needs, reasons for learning, learning habits and difficulties have become heterogeneous. In order to cope with learners with different cultural backgrounds, the recent trend is to develop syllabuses and teaching materials based on language situations with cultural emphasis. The thesis shows that the teaching materials available and approaches used cannot completely cope with learners' needs nowadays. This thesis suggests using an eclectic teaching approach, which combines pronunciation training, drilling exercise, communicative activities and interactive tasks to teach Cantonese nowadays. Teachers and textbooks developers also need to incorporate cultural elements into language situations both inside the teaching materials and the language classrooms. The thesis provides valuable analysis and information for Cantonese teachers, material developers, curriculum designers, decision makers in the teaching institutions to design suitable curricula and teaching materials for the learners.