NZC Visiting Fellow Dr Michael Li Lectures at Peking University
30/03/2018 - Peking University hosted Dr Michael Li as a Visiting Fellow from the School of Humanities, Massey University, New Zealand. On 30 March 2018 Dr Li presented a seminar to a packed lecture room of professors and graduate students at Peking University’s School of Chinese as a Second Language.
Dr. Michael Li arrived at Peking University on 26th March for his 10-day visit to Peking University as a visiting fellow to continue his cooperative research project with Professor Liu Yuanman from the School of Chinese as a Second Language and to explore other possible research cooperation possibilities with scholars at Peking University. On 30th March, Dr Li presented a seminar entitled “Agency in the construction of Chinese language learning opportunities in immersion contexts”. Dr Li’s seminar was well attended and enjoyed a very positive reception.
In his lecture, Dr. Li discussed the finding of his research which explored the role of agency in Chinese learning as a second language. His research was based on data collected through a New Zealand cohort of Chinese language learners who underwent an intensive six-week course at Peking University in November 2017 funded through Education New Zealand’s Prime Minister’s Scholarship to Asia.
Dr. Michael Li lecturing to faculty and students at PKU
Dr Li’s research looked into the role of agency and space for second-language learners. Though this focus on agency is relatively new in the academic discipline of second-language learning, similar research to Dr Li’s had been performed in the US in recent years, however a study of this nature in relation to Chinese language learners remains a novel endeavour. As such Dr Li’s work is an important contribution to this field.
The cohort central to his research was made up of New Zealand based learners of varying ages and Chinese ability, the only shared characteristic of the group being that they were all highly motivated to learn Mandarin Chinese. During the intensive six weeks of learning Dr Li gathered data from the New Zealand cohort through; an online forum, interviews, individual journals kept by students and regular oral reports delivered in Chinese by each student to their class.
Key aspects of Dr Li’s research included the relationship between the language, the agents (i.e. the teacher and students) and environment as well as the role of the student as a key agent in the language learning process. The role of student agency and the environment, which relevant literature divides into space and place, has traditionally been underappreciated in second-language learning.
There has been increased exploration of the role of agency and emotion in second-language learning in recent years. The study or learning agency has proven more difficult to study than language learning itself with the emotions of learning diverse and their effects are complex.