International Journal of Business and Social Science

ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijbss

Designing the Strategy for Teaching Chinese Discourse as SLA by a Comparative Analysis of the Different Co-reference Devices in English and Chinese Discourses
Lin Yang

Structures and strategies pertaining to discourse organization are crucial to the acquisition of the language as well as natural and effective communication. Chinese is described linguistically as a typical discourse-oriented language. In the field of teaching Chinese as a second language acquisition (SLA) in advanced level, there is a general consensus that discourse is hard to be specified and difficult to teach and learn. This paper is proposed to lay out specific elements in Chinese discourse structures by making a comparative study of Chinese and English discourse devices and designs the strategy in teaching and learning these structures. English discourses and Chinese discourses share some similarities in the cohesive devices employed, but there exist great differences in the practical choice of them and the frequency of using them. For example, co-reference in English and Chinese discourses are basically same but there exists differences in concrete use and frequency of using them. ZA, a peculiar device in Chinese, is mainly used in referring to living people or animals and usually appears in descriptions and narrations. In the same circumstance, English prefers to pronouns. There are three reasons to explain why the frequency of using pronouns in English is much higher than in Chinese: the first is that there is no ZA in English; the second one is that the frequency of using possessive pronouns in English is much higher than in Chinese; the last one is that the usage of pronouns in Chinese is more limited while in English it is less limited. In the co-reference of inanimate things or conceptions, both English and Chinese prefer to NP, especially the repetition of NP, but synonyms in NP is relatively less used. However the frequency of using demonstrative pronouns in English is much higher than in Chinese. Researches and experiments have showed that Zero Anaphora (ZA) is a peculiar device in Chinese discourses while English discourses prefer personal pronouns; the frequency of using personal pronouns in English discourses is much higher than in Chinese ones but the frequency of using noun phrases (NP) is on the contrary; the frequency of using repetition and general words in noun phrases tends to be consistent in both English and Chinese discourses although there exist differences in special reference words. In addition, whether in English discourses or Chinese ones, the choices of reference is influenced by genres, types of referring objects and their roles playing in discourses. The correct use of cohesive devices in the discourse makes the whole essay coherent. This paper cites a famous English description, The Song of the River and a well-known Chinese essay The Lotus Pool by Moonlight as examples to make a comparative analysis of devices of co-reference expression in two languages. Studies in language processing show that languages differ in their discourse pattern and that L2 learners tend to transfer their L1 discourse processing strategies into L2 Thus, it is anticipated that Chinese learners with an L1 such as English, which does not allow NP deletion in obligatory contexts, would exert unacceptable redundancy or grammar errors beyond the sentence level and help Chinese teachers eliminate the fear of teaching discourse so that they treat discourse structures the same as any other grammatical elements in Chinese classes and have a better understanding of the reason that English-speakers make such mistakes when they write paragraphs.

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