IMPLEMENTING SERVICE-LEARNING TO CHINESE LANGUAGE COURSES: A COMPREHENSIVE STUDY
Service learning has been proposed as a widespread educational movement that merges academic work with real-life community service activities that encourages students to reflect and think critically about their experiences. As a pedagogical tool for second language acquisition, the greatest benefit of utilizing service learning activities results in the fact that it creates connections to the target language community and provides authentic experiences for target language use. Although service-learning has been extensively implemented into language programs such as Spanish and English as a Second Language (ESL), it is still in its infancy with Chinese second language learners.
This dissertation examines the effects and outcomes of service-learning involvement on the advanced Chinese learners towards language acquisition, cultural understanding, and community engagement. The study was conducted in a Midwest university with 30 students from a variety of educational and cultural backgrounds.The data was collected through pre-/post-survey, observation and reflective journals. Findings indicated that the service-learning experiences enhanced and enriched students' Chinese language learning. Additional benefits to the students included increasing their knowledge of Chinese culture and history, developing a higher motivation for community engagement and transformative learning, and forming connections to people and community beyond the classroom. However, differences were also found in students' service-learning experiences and outcomes based on gender, race, and cultural backgrounds. Future directions of Chinese service-learning in the emerging fields were discussed as promising avenues for future Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) research and practice.