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Online Mandarin Language Teaching and Learning During COVID-19 Pandemic at University of Mauritius in Africa

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Abstract

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 on March 18, 2020 in Mauritius, the Confucius Institute at University of Mauritius (CI-UoM) has shifted all Mandarin courses to online mode. This study surveyed over 120 learners and interviewed seven instructors to investigate the different aspects of emergency remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include technical issues, teaching methods, student opinion and assessment methods. The curriculum was successfully completed at the end of the teaching semester and 72.8% of learners were willing to opt for online learning or for blended learning in the future. Better strategies, especially concerning learner motivation and teacher-student interaction, have to be explored for the future online teaching at CI-UoM.

Keywords

  • Emergency Remote Chinese Teaching
  • ZOOM
  • Confucius Institute at University of Mauritius

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Acknowledgements

The author thanks the Confucius Institute at University of Mauritius, especially Professor Dr Mingduan Fu and Associate Professor Dr Naraindra Kistamah, the Chinese and local directors, for their support and proofreading. The author thanks Miss Xiaoxia Li, Miss Lanhui He, Miss Xiaoping Wu, Miss Danfang Yang, Professor Dr Kangfu Zhang, Dr Yanmei Zhao for their valuable contribution by sharing their observations concerning online teaching . The author also thanks all students who participated in the online survey.

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Correspondence to Sharon Too .

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Appendix: Student Survey

Appendix: Student Survey

Basic Information (Part 1/5)

Gender:*

○ Male 男 nán ○ Female 女 nǚ

Age:*

○ <20 ○ 20~30 ○ 31~40 ○ 41~50 ○ 51~60 ○ >60

Occupation: *

○ Student ○ Work & Study ○ Full-Time Work ○ Part-Time Work ○ Retired ○ Housewife/husband

Teacher’s name: *_________________________________________.

Attendance and Satisfaction (Part 2/5)

Years learning Mandarin:*

○ <1 ○ 1–2 ○ 3–4 ○ >5

Which course have you been studying? Nǐ zài xuéxí nà yī mén kè? 你在学习哪一门课?*

○ HSK 1 ○ HSK 2 ○ New Practical Chinese Beginner (màn bān)
○ HSK 3 ○ YCT3 ○ New Practical Chinese Advanced (kuài bān)

Your attendance online since COVID-19 lockdown :*

○ Always Present ○ Regular ○ Sometimes Absent ○ Often Absent

Reasons for being absent:*

○ Personal/urgent matter ○ Work/study time clash ○ Not interested in online class
○ No Internet/too slow ○ Too busy with work/studies ○ Other: _________________
○ Electricity issue ○ Can’t concentrate at home/office  

If you withdrew or are thinking of withdrawing from Mandarin course, why?

□ Work/study schedule clash □ Online classes not interesting □ Too busy
□ Content too difficult to learn □ Not enough oral practice □ Lost motivation
□ I don't like the teacher/teaching style □ Hard to catch up after absence □ Other:_______________

How much do you enjoy/are satisfied with Mandarin class? *

  1 (not at all) 2 3 4 5 (very much)
Face-to-face (before lockdown)
Online (since lockdown)

Why do you like Online Mandarin class, compared to face-to-face class? *

□ Saves time, money, energy □ Flexible schedule □ Prefers online learning □ Other: _____
□ Clearly see PowerPoint □ Easily take screenshots □ No distractions from others

Why do you dislike Online Mandarin classes, compared to face-to-face classes? *

□ Eyes tired from watching screen □ Less interaction with teacher/classmates □ Other:
___________
___________
□ Less interesting, less motivated □ Internet not stable or slow
□ Join ZOOM each 40 min not convenient □ Device heats up/no battery

Technical aspect of Online Mandarin Class (Part 3/5)

Does your teacher usually provide PowerPoint slides since COVID-19?*

○ Yes before class ○ Yes after class ○ Sometimes ○ No, we can take pictures ○ Other:__________

Which device do you use to attend online Mandarin class?*

□ Desktop Computer □ Laptop □ Mobile Phone □ Tablet or iPad

Which application/programme does your teacher use and for what purpose?*

  Lectures Messages Guidance Homework Documents
ZOOM
Google Meeting
Google Classroom
WhatsApp
WeChat
Email

Which features do you/your teacher often use in ZOOM?*

  Screen share (PowerPoint) Chat Room (messages) Breakout Room Digital Whiteboard Annotation (draw) Raise your hand Clap hands/ Thumbs Up
You
Teacher

How skilful are you with digital devices or programmes like ZOOM:*

  1 (not at all) 2 3 4 5 (very much)
When online classes started
Now (after 3 months of online classes )

If you are having difficulties with using digital devices or ZOOM, what do you do?*

○ Ask teacher for help ○ Ask spouse/children for help ○ Do nothing ○ Other: ______________

During class lectures, most of the time*

  No camera/microphone Off On On except when noisy On when required to speak
Camera
Microphone

If camera/microphone is off, why do you refrain from using them?

  Privacy Internet too slow Technical issue Feeling shy Questions too difficult
Camera
Microphone

Online Teaching Methods (Part 4/5)

Which activities are you satisfied with in online classes ?*

  1 (not at all) 2 3 4 5 (very much)
Vocabulary explanation
Grammar explanation
Pronunciation
Characters
Reading text aloud together
Reading text aloud in turns (role play)
Creating sentences
Questions and answers
Classwork exercises
Pair/group work (Breakout Room)
Games
Watching videos online

How good was your teacher’s class management in terms of time, pace, behaviour, etc?*

○ Poor ○ Not good ○ Average ○ Good ○ Excellent

How was class atmosphere online?*

○ Dull ○ A bit dull ○ Average ○ Good ○ Fun and lively

How much progress in online teaching did your teacher make until now?*

○ None ○ A little ○ Average ○ Quite much ○ A lot

In the future, which mode of instruction would you prefer?*

○ Face-to-face only ○ Online except for exams ○ Blended: face-to-face & online
○ Face-to-face, except for cyclone, pandemic, etc. ○ Online only  

Teaching pace and homework load (Part 5/5)

How was the teaching pace/speed for you?*

○ Too slow ○ A bit slow ○ Just right ○ A bit fast ○ Too fast

Which type of homework were you assigned since Covid-19*

□ Workbook exercises □ Extra exercises □ Share learning tips, resources
□ Writing (dialogues, short essay) □ Character writing □ Other: _________________
_______________________
□ Oral (reading, short speech) □ Summarize, revision notes

How often do you complete homework assigned?*

○ Rarely ○ Sometimes ○ Average ○ Most of the time ○ Always

If homework was seldom submitted, the reasons are:

○No time. ○Too hard/unclear. ○Not useful. ○ Not interesting. ○ Not important. ○ Often forgets

Was the homework load too heavy or too light for you?*

○ Too heavy ○ A bit heavy ○ Just right ○ A bit light ○ Too light

How satisfied are you concerning homework ?*

  1 (not at all) 2 3 4 5 (very much)
Usefulness
Variety
Correction

Since the start of online class es , how much did you gain in terms of:*

  1 (nothing) 2 3 4 5 ( a lot)
Knowledge
Language skills
Practice
Motivation
Progress

Any areas your teacher did particularly well, aspects to improve, or other comments:

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Too, S. (2022). Online Mandarin Language Teaching and Learning During COVID-19 Pandemic at University of Mauritius in Africa. In: Liu, S. (eds) Teaching the Chinese Language Remotely. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-87055-3_6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-87055-3_6

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

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