Scaffolding Singaporean Students to Write Vividly in the Chinese ‘Mother Tongue’, Mandarin

Tzemin Chung, Neil Anderson, Munkew Leong, Waiyin Choy

Abstract


This paper details results from a three-year study investigating how to help students in Singapore write vivid compositions in Mandarin, the Chinese ‘mother tongue’. Mastery of the mother tongue by Singaporean students has become an important government priority in recent years. The strategies employed by this study included the use of information and communications technology (ICT) mediated scaffolds such as collaborative mind maps and online peer editing to help students learn micro-writing strategies. This paper outlines the process of using various scaffolds to support students to learn and apply the action chain micro-writing strategy. A class of 31 Primary 4 from a neighbourhood school participated in this study. Findings indicated that students were very enthusiastic about writing in the ICT-mediated environment. Contrary to the teacher’s initial belief, students could be scaffolded to write action chains quickly. Findings highlighted the potential of scaffolding students in learning small chunks of writing strategy in an ICT-mediated environment that enabled them to practice these strategies in their composition writing until they could master and apply them. These micro-writing strategies gradually built up to a complex set of skills, including expressive writing. Moreover, students enjoyed working in groups and editing their peers’ work online. This showed that peers could be engaged as scaffolders in the classroom to free up the teacher’ time, allowing the teacher more time to spend with students who were not performing well. 


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