The Development of Chinese Word Lists for Learners of Mandarin as a Foreign Language

By Hiang Loon Low.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the field of teaching and learning Mandarin as a foreign language (MFL), there had been no systematic and unified Chinese word list in China before the launching of the HSK Word List (8822 words) in 1992. The HSK Word List was constructed by the Chinese government for the purpose of the Chinese Proficiency Test, known in Chinese as Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK). There had been no further development of the Chinese word list since then until a new approach of establishing country-specific Chinese word lists was proposed by Gan in 2006. Gan developed a 10,000 word Chinese word list for Koreans based on the Korean Frequency Corpus, the HSK Word List, and the China media corpus. By adopting Gan’s framework and using an additional small corpus of Chinese textbooks, Wan (2008) developed a 1912 word Chinese word list for Thai MFL beginners. For the latest development, Xiao, Rayson, & McEnery (2009) came up with the 5000 word Frequency Dictionary of Mandarin Chinese based on 50 million word tokens. The New HSK Word List of 5,000 words released in 2010 was based on the guidance of selected experts. This paper supports the new approach of constructing country-specific Chinese word lists for different countries on the belief that the question “Whom are we teaching?” is more important to MFL instructors than “What should we teach foreign students?”.

Keywords: Chinese Word List, Country-specific, Mandarin as a Foreign Language, Corpus, Vocabulary

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 7, pp.191-202. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 761.316KB).

Hiang Loon Low

Ph.D Candidate, Department of Languages and Cultures, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Hiang Loon, Low, female, married, is currently a PhD candidate at the Department of Languages and Cultures, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Based on her previous experiences in teaching Mandarin as a foreign language for 10 years, her research interest is focused on the development of Chinese word lists and teaching materials for learners of Mandarin as a foreign language or second language. She is the main author for two Mandarin textbooks for specific purposes, namely Mandarin for hotel and tourism management and Mandarin for food management. She is the co-writer and editor for Practical Mandarin Guide Book + CD for learners of Mandarin as a foreign language in Malaysia. She has presented her papers at national and international conferences. She is also the author of a book entitled: The Reeds at the Riverside – A teenage diary of a lecturer published by Mentor Publishing House in Kuala Lumpur. The book has been reprinted five times.


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