A Concept-based Approach to the Instruction of the Chinese ba-construction


  • Haiyang Ai University of Cincinnati




concept-based language instruction, L2 development, sociocultural theory, ba-construction, ntelligent computer-assisted language learning


This study explores a concept-based instruction approach to promoting second language
development of the ba-construction, a known difficult area, by six collegelevel
English learners of Chinese in a two-month enrichment program. We developed
SCOBAs to explain the syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic constraints of the baconstruction,
as well as its similarities and differences from the canonical Subject-
Verb-Object (SVO) and topicalization Object-Subject-Verb (OSV) word orders. The
participants’ productive use of the construction was assessed with two translations
(one on paper and one on the computer) and a cartoon description task following
a pretest, posttest, and delayed posttest format. Semi-structured interviews and the
participants’ verbalization data were also collected. By comparing the participants’
gain scores in relation to maximum possible scores, we found that the participants had made large gains throughout the study and retained much of the gain two weeks after the posttest. The microgenetic analyses of the participants’ production data showed improvement in the use of resultative verb compound, perfective marker–le, and the placement of directional particles. Finally, the verbalizations data indicated improvement in conceptual understanding of the ba-construction in terms of its scope, i.e., not just the physical placement of objects, but the accentuation of the results of the verbal action.

Author Biography

Haiyang Ai, University of Cincinnati

Haiyang Ai is an Assistant Professor of Literacy and Second Language Studies in the School of Education at the University of Cincinnati. His research interests include corpus linguistics, computer-assisted language learning, and second language writing.


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How to Cite

Ai, H. (2021). A Concept-based Approach to the Instruction of the Chinese ba-construction. Language and Sociocultural Theory, 7(1), 1–32. https://doi.org/10.1558/lst.38768