GUDER, Andreas: Struggling with Chinese: New Dimensions in Foreign Language Teaching
In Europe, to learn a foreign language traditionally meant to learn another European language like French, English or Russian. Non-indoeuropean languages like Turkish, Arabic, Japanese or Chinese were always regarded as exotic and remote subjects of philology.
This paper will first introduce several arguments and data underlining the need for a discipline of “Teaching Distant Languages” in its linguistic and cultural dimensions so as to enhance the awareness of those languages among scientists and the general public.
It is especially the Chinese language that represents a number of challenges to the discipline of Foreign Language Teaching, because the complex writing system adds a third dimension to language teaching and learning, making it the figurehead and prime example of these “distant languages” to deal with. In the second part of this paper, I will try to develop a three-phase-model of Hanzi acquisition that - in separating literal from oral competence - could form the basis of a new approach to reading and writing ability in Chinese for Western learners.