Chinese Language Acquisition Research Centre | 汉语语言习得研究中心

Research into Chinese language acquisition and teaching Chinese as a foreign language.

The Future Lab

The centre investigates the acquisition of Chinese by various types of learners to enhance understanding and provide references for language teachers, policy makers and authors.

The Chinese Language Acquisition Centre was established and collaborations were built with:

Adult Beginners’ Language Acquisition | 成人初学者语言习得

In February 2020, the SCI and the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Linguistic Sciences at the University of Edinburgh launched a collaborative study on the subject of “Language Choice and Teaching Method on the Cognitive Effect on Language Learning”. 从2020年2月始,谢菲尔德大学孔子学院与英国爱丁堡大学哲学、心理和语言科学学院就“语言选择和教学方式对语言学习认知效果的影响”课题展开合作研究,研究方向主要为汉语选择和教学方式对汉语学习认知效果的影响。

Aimed at beginner learners, free Mandarin courses had been offered at the Institute in combination with the study.

Participants, who were over 18 and had never learned Chinese before, took part in the study, attending two sets of classes, one focusing on spoken Chinese and one focusing on written Chinese, over 16 classes.

At the beginning and end of each set of classes, participants completed research sessions, over four sessions.

In August 2020, the initial study “Comparing Face-to-face and Online Teaching of Written and Spoken Chinese to Adult Learners: An Edinburgh-Sheffield Case Study” has been published on International Journal of Chinese Language Teaching.

2020年8月,其研究项目的初步成果论文《比较面授和线上教学模式下成人汉字和口语教学---爱丁堡 和谢菲尔德案例》已经《国际汉语教学学报》上发表。

Adult intermediate learners’ Language Acquisition | 成人中级水平语言习得

Working with Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR), Southampton University, a study focused on intermediate levelled students has been taking place.

The students were from our courses “Chinese for Everyone” and School of East Asian Studies.

The study explored language syntax and grammar. Research results have been publicised at various academic conferences.

Early Years Language Acquisition, Mandarin Playgroup | 婴幼儿亲子习得

Children have a natural ability to learn, which is developed during the first few years of their life. Learning a second language can be just as easy as learning the first.

Language learning lays a foundation for study skills, attitudes and creative thinking. Every new language opens a new window into a new life.

The purpose of this research is to study how children acquire Mandarin and how they interact with their parents, teachers, and peers in a playgroup setting.

Heritage Speakers’ Language Acquisition | 儿童继承语语言习得

Working with the Childhood Bilingualism Research Centre of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Sheffield Confucius Institute conducted research on the acquisition of Mandarin Chinese by heritage Mandarin and Cantonese speakers.

The project explored heritage language acquisition by school-age children and its research results have been publicised at various training courses and academic conferences. It has also led to further collaboration between the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Sheffield.

A research article “The Mandarin ba-construction in school-age heritage speakers and their parental input” has been published online in Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism. It is now available to current subscribers at:

Growing up Multilingual with Chinese heritage: Global and Local Perspectives

Growing up multilingual with a heritage language background brings with it complex links to identity and belonging. This research project provides the opportunity to shine a lens on the attitudes, thoughts, and dreams of young people growing up with Chinese heritage. Working with a group of 11-16-year-old co-researchers in Sheffield, the project gives children the opportunity to shape research that affects them on two strands - one global, and one local to Sheffield, UK.

The global strand encourages young people growing up multilingual with Chinese heritage to submit any text or multimodal artefact of their choosing (e.g., films, drawings, collages, etc.), expressing any aspects of their identity they wish to raise. The local strand brings together children and young people in focus groups according to age, with the questions co-designed with the young co-researchers. Both strands aim to explore what it means to grow up multilingual with Chinese heritage.

For more information on this ongoing project, please visit:

For more information, contact:


Centres of excellence

The University's cross-faculty research centres harness our interdisciplinary expertise to solve the world's most pressing challenges.