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University of Pittsburgh


Yi Xu

Assistant Professor, Chinese language and linguistics


Office Location

113C Old Engineering Hall
Phone: 412-624-4923

Office Hours

Spring 2014: Friday 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. and by appointment



Ph.D. Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, University of Arizona.

M. A. English Language/Linguistics, University of Arizona.

B. A. English for International Legal Studies, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.


First year Chinese (CHIN 0001 and CHIN 0002)

Second year Chinese (CHIN 0003)

Third year Chinese (CHIN 1020)

Aspects of the Chinese Language (CHIN/LING 1025/2025) (Spring 2014)

Senior Project/Capstone (Spring 2014)

Research Interests

I maintain a broad interest in second language acquisition and Chinese linguistics, and most of my work focuses on Chinese as a foreign language. In some of my earlier research, I explored the effect of computer-mediated communication in second language writing. In the field of Chinese as a second language, I have worked on learners’ interlanguage development in Chinese syntax. In the recent couple of years, I became interested in learners’ reading skill development. I was motivated because I observed how the Chinese writing system imposes challenges for learners. Some of my recent projects are aimed at exploring how the learning of Chinese orthography can be more effective for students at different proficiency levels. I am also interested in using corpora to do language research. Currently, I am exploring objective indicators that can measure Chinese learners’ written and oral language development.


Journal articles (single or first authored)

(Forthcoming) Processing difficulties of relative clauses in Chinese as a second language. Second Language Research.

(Forthcoming). A corpus-based functional study of shi…de constructions. Chinese Language and Discourse.

(Forthcoming). Evidence of the Accessibility Hierarchy in relative clauses in Chinese as a second language. Language and Linguistics, 15(3).

(2013). CFL learners’ production of relative clauses with demonstratives—From theory to empirical research. Chinese as a Second Language Research, 2(2), 169-192.

(2013). 1st and corresponding author, with Chang, L.-Y., Zhang, J., and Perfetti, C. A. The comparative effectiveness of reading, writing, and animationin Chinese as a foreign language character learning. Foreign Language Annals, 46(3), 423-444.

Youtube video abstract and discussion is available at <>

(2012). On psycholinguistic and acquisition studies of relative clauses—An interdisciplinary and cross-linguistic perspective. Contemporary Foreign Language Studies (SLA issue), 384(12): 65-89.

(2007). Re-examining the effects and affects of electronic peer reviews in a freshmen composition class. The Reading Matrix: An International Online Journal, 7(2): 1-21.

Book chapters

(Forthcoming). Relativization strategies in Chinese as a foreign language learners’ interlanguage. In Huang, C.-T., and Liu, F.-H. (Eds.), Peaches and Plums. Taipei: Academia Sinica.

(2013). Acquisition of Chinese relative clauses at the initial stage. In Kecskes, I. (Ed.), Research in Chinese as a Second Language. Trends in Applied Linguistics Series, pp. 216-236. Boston/Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

(2007). Teaching materials and authentic language: A case study of shi…de sentences from corpora. In Cheng, A., He, W., and Mu, L. (Eds.) Essays on Teaching Chinese to American Students, pp. 239-244. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

Conference proceedings

(2013) The distribution and grouping effect in character learning—Using data-driven E-learning materials in the language classroom. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Internet Chinese Education. 1st author, with Chang, L.-Y. and Perfetti, C. A.

(2011). The Accessibility Hierarchy in Chinese relative clauses. Proceedings of the 16th Conference of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics: 68-73.

(2010). The noun phrase accessibility hierarchy in Chinese as a foreign language learners’ interlanguage. In Clemens, L.E. & C.-M. L. Liu (Eds.), Proceedings of the 22nd North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NACCL-22) & the 18th International Conference on Chinese Linguistics (IACL-18). Vol 1. Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.: 31-48.

(2005). Counting and measuring of eventualities in Chinese and English. North American Conference On Chinese Linguistics (NACCL) -17 Proceedings: 446-462.

Book reviews

(Forthcoming). Review of the book Bilingual development and literacy learning—East Asian and international perspectives, by N. Francis. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 36(1).

(2013). Review of the book Second language interaction in diverse educational contexts, by K. McDonough & A. Mackey (Eds.). LINGUIST List <>