Yan Liu, Ph.D., is a Lecturer of Chinese in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and an affiliate faculty member in Asian/Pacific Studies Institute. Her primary research interests include second language (L2) acquisition, L2 reading, L2 assessment, intercultural competence, Chinese language pedagogy, and Chinese curriculum development. These research interests are developed from her language teaching experience and her motive to promote language teaching and learning. Her research work has been published and presented in many prestigious conferences, such as the annual conference of American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), the annual conference of Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR), and the annual convention of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). She is also a reviewer of Studies in Chinese Learning and Teaching.
Since she joined Duke in 2013, Yan Liu has been teaching and coordinating Intermediate Chinese courses (CHN 203 & 204). She also teaches Advanced Literacy in Chinese (CHN 333) on a regular basis and was awarded David L. Paletz Innovative Teaching Funds for this course in 2015. In the same year, she developed a new course on Chinese Translation and Interpretation (CHN 332) that aims to develop students’ skills in translating or interpreting different genres of texts from English to Chinese or from Chinese to English. In addition to teaching on Duke campus, she also teaches summer courses in Duke Study in China (DSIC), a Duke-administered study-abroad program in Beijing.
Yan Liu was awarded 2015-2016 Service-Learning Faculty Fellow and has been coordinating and co-organizing Chinese program’s service-learning/community-based activities with her colleagues. Taking her own courses as an example, she has connected her students with a variety of local communities, such as, Burton Elementary School (CHN333 in 2013 fall), Durham Academy (CHN203 in 2015 fall and 2016 fall), Duke China Care, a student organization on Duke campus that helps adopted children from China find their cultural roots (CHN333 in 2014 fall and 2015 spring), Chinese international students and visitors at Duke (CHN333 in 2015 spring and 2016 spring; CHN203 and CHN204 from 2014 fall till now), and local Chinese professional translators and interpreters (CHN332 in 2015 fall). These community-based activities have enabled her students to know different communities around them and encouraged them to serve the communities with what they have learned from her Chinese courses.
In light of the dramatic growth of Chinese learners worldwide and a need for cross-linguistic research on Chinese literacy development, this study drew upon theories of visual complexity effect (Su and Samuels, 2010) and dual-coding processing (Sadoski and Paivio, 2013) and investigated (a) the effects of character properties (i.e., visual complexity and radical presence) on character acquisition and (b) the relationship between individual learner differences in radical awareness and character acquisition. Participants included adolescent English-speaking beginning learners of Chinese in the U.S. Following Kuo et al. (2014), a novel character acquisition task was used to investigate the process of acquiring the meaning of new characters. Results showed that (a) characters with radicals and with less visual complexity were easier to acquire than characters without radicals and with greater visual complexity; and (b) individual differences in radical awareness were associated with the acquisition of all types of characters, but the association was more pronounced with the acquisition of characters with radicals. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings were discussed.