Etymological Elaboration in Chéngyǔ 成语 Teaching
The Role of Opacity, Type of Instruction, and Competence Level
As a sub-type of Chinese idioms, chengyu 成语 play an important role in Chinese teaching. This study tested the effectiveness of etymological elaboration in relation to the type of instruction (direct or indirect), the degree of transparency of the chengyu, and the participants’ proficiency level. 48 post-elementary and 53 pre-intermediate learners were divided into three groups, one control and two experimental groups. The experimental groups attended to a 30-minute treatment, then a post-test was submitted to all the participants. Statistical and qualitative analysis revealed that indirect instruction was significantly more effective than direct instruction, independently from the participants’ competence level, and that opaque chengyu were more easily retained than transparent chengyu.