Awardee: Jing Zhou, Visiting Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures
Research Assistants: Zoe Shao (Harvey Mudd ’24) and April Zhao (Harvey Mudd ’23)
Title: Enhancing L2 Chinese Learners’ Literacy Through Online Extensive Reading
Goal: To construct an extensive reading website focused on improving language proficiency, reading attitudes, and cultural awareness among Chinese language learners
View: IChineseER website
The main purpose of Jing Zhou’s project was to expose L2 Chinese learners to extensive reading (ER) through online Chinese materials. ER is defined as reading a large number of interesting, level-appropriate materials. Research has shown that ER improves L2 learners’ reading motivation, reading attitudes and anxieties, reading fluency, vocabulary knowledge, grammar knowledge, and speaking, writing, and language proficiency in general.
Zhou’s project began with acquiring student access to a Chinese reading website. She felt the need for such a site was exacerbated during the start of the pandemic, a time when many students couldn’t check out physical books. She encouraged students to read materials from the site weekly and complete corresponding activities. Upon seeing initial success, Zhou began tinkering with the idea of designing an extensive reading website of her own, and thus, her project evolved: I Love Chinese Extensive Reading.
Before developing the website, I Love Chinese Extensive Reading (IChineseER for short), Zhou and her research assistants, Zoe Shao (Harvey Mudd ’24) and April Zhao (Harvey Mudd ’23), reviewed existing extensive reading websites as a means of perfecting their own. They also designed questionnaires to gauge the type of materials students would be most interested in. Then they began developing readings on those topics with multiple difficulty levels and audio files for each selection.
The website will be a continuous work in progress, as Zhou adds her own students’ work to the site, all of which are tagged accordingly. Currently, the site houses 262 reading passages adopted, adapted, or created by learners of Chinese.
Already through Zhou’s work with ER, students have increased their reading speed, improved their vocabulary and grammar knowledge, and enhanced their Chinese language proficiency. She looks forward to helping students further develop their skills. With I Love Chinese Extensive Reading showcasing students’ writings on Chinese culture, videos, drawings, and reading-writing connections—all of which are expected to be read, viewed, and expanded on by future students—this project is sure to pay dividends for years to come.