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Dr Qian Kan

Profile summary

Professional biography

My name in Chinese is 阚茜. For my publications wherever possible, my name is displayed in the Chinese order: Kan Qian as Chinese family names come first.

I am Senior Lecturer in Chinese, Head of Chinese, Associate Head of School (Teaching and Learning) in the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics at The Open University. I was accredited as Senior Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (UK) in 2015.

Before joining OU, I was Senior Language Teaching officer in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge. Prior to that, I lectured in Chinese Studies at Lancaster University. Between 1992 and 1993, I worked for the BBC World Service as translator and presenter.

I am also Director of Studies in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Christ's College; and Bye-Fellow at Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge. 

My Wordpress page is:


Research interests

My main research interest is technology-enhanced language learning at a distance, mainly the use of online forums in assisting the learning of Chinese language, the use of reflective forums for intercultural learning, tandem learning, mobile language learning and building online communities by peer mentoring. I also supervise  Doctoral in Education (EdD) students.

Teaching interests

I have been teaching Chinese as a foreign language for over 30 years. 

I have published numerous learning materials including: Colloquial Chinese (3rd ed 2021), Colloquial Chinese 2 (Routledge 2007), GCSE Chinese Writing Revision Guide (Sinolingua, 2018), Developing Writing Skills in Chinese (Routledge 2013, co-author with Boping Yuan), Teach Yourself Phone Mandarin (Hodder & Stoughton, 2008), Mandarin Chinese Phrase Book (BBC Active, 2007).


Impact and engagement

Developed OU's Chinese Character learning apps 'Chinese@OU' (for both iOS and Android) and 'Chinese Characters First Steps' App (Android). 

External collaborations

MOVE-ME: MOOCs for University Students on the Move in Europe

This is an EU Funded 2-year Erasmus+ Project (total grant: €296,831) with six partner institutions. Università per Stranieri di Siena (Italy) leads the project. The other 5 partners are: The Open Unviersity (UK), Federazione Nazionale Insegnanti Centro di iniziativa per l’Europa (Italy); National University of Ireland, Galway (Ireland), Computer Technology Institute & Press Diophantus (Greece) and Nstitutul De S tiinte Ale Educatiei (Romamia).

The main objective of the project is to facilitate the integration of students in academic mobility enhancing their ability to function in academic and specialized contexts and developing their ability of learning to learn. The MOVE-ME project will create a learning path specifically designed for students in mobility programmes, supporting learners in the acquisition of the competences and skills necessary for understanding academic texts, written and oral, relating to specific disciplines, developing the ability to understand and produce academic writing of various genres.

The project ended in January 2018 with the following outputs which the OU team was resposible for:

- ‘English for Academic Purposes: A MOVEME Project Course’ MOOC on FutureLearn with three runs

-  All the resources for the above EAP MOOC are on the project website for open access:

- ‘Guideline for the Evaluation of the Language MOOCs’:


Investigating into strategies used when learning Chinese characters with mobile apps

Previous research has established some common strategies used when learning characters with pen-and-paper. The current study is to investigate if different/new strategies are used when learning characters with mobile apps.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
CREET: Language and Literacies Research ClusterClusterFaculty of Education and Language Studies


Exploring language learning and corrective feedback in an eTandem project (2021)
Tang, Jinlan; Kan, Qian; Wang, Na and Hu, Xiaona
Journal of China Computer-Assisted Language Learning, 1(1)

Designing and Supporting Virtual Exchange: The Case of Chinese–English e-Tandem (2021)
Lewis, Tim and Qian, Kan
Modern Languages Open, 1, Article 19

Communicative styles, rapport and student engagement: An online peer mentoring scheme (2020-10)
Culpeper, Jonathan and Kan, Qian
Applied Linguistics, 41(5) (pp. 756-786)

Researching Mobile-Assisted English Language Learning Among Adult Distance Learners in China: Emerging Practices and Learner Perception of Teacher Role (2018-09)
Kan, Qian and Tang, Jinlan
International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching (IJCALLT), 8(3) (pp. 1-28)

Researching mobile-assisted Chinese-character learning strategies among adult distance learners (2018)
Kan, Qian; Owen, Nathaniel and Bax, Stephen
Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 12(1) (pp. 56-71)

Investigating the benefits of online peer mentoring for student confidence and motivation (2018)
Fayram, Jo; Boswood, Nel; Kan, Qian; Motzo, Anna and Proudfoot, Anna
International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, 7(4) (pp. 312-328)

Why and how do distance learners use mobile devices for language learning? (2016-03-31)
Demouy, Valérie; Jones, Ann; Kan, Qian; Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes and Eardley, Annie
The EuroCALL Review, 24, Article 5663(1) (pp. 10-24)

Design and user evaluation of a mobile app to teach Chinese characters (2015-04)
Rosell-Aguilar, Fernando and Kan, Qian
JALT CALL Journal, 11, Article 2(1) (pp. 19-40)

Building course cohesion: the use of online forums in distance Chinese language learning (2014)
Kan, Qian and McCormick, Robert
Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27(1) (pp. 44-69)

The use of ICT in supporting distance Chinese language learning - review of The Open University’s beginners’ Chinese course (2013-06)
Kan, Qian
Technology and Chinese Language Teaching, 4(1) (pp. 1-13)

Chinese-English eTandem Learning: the role of pre-project preparation and collaboration (2013)
Kan, Qian; Stickler, Ursula and Xu, Cheng
Chinese Language Globalisation Studies 汉语国际传播研究, 2(5)

From ‘Chinese in Steps’ to ‘First Steps’ – A case study on converting classroom-based teaching materials to suit distance Chinese language teaching (2012)
Kan, Qian
Chinese Language in the World(2) (pp. 46-54)

Developing Writing Skills in Chinese (2nd Edition) (2013)
Kan, Qian and Yuan, Boping
ISBN : 978-0-415-67888-9 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abington

Colloquial Chinese 2 (2007)
Kan, Qian
ISBN : 978-0-415-32818-0 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London, UK

Researching Into the Use of Real-Life Materials in Language Learning Apps (2022)
Tang, Xiaolong and Kan, Qian
In: Xu, Xiaoge ed. Applying Mobile Technologies to Chinese Language Learning (pp. 91-122)
Publisher : IGI Global

Researching Mobile-Assisted English Language Learning Among Adult Distance Learners in China (2020)
Kan, Qian and Tang, Jinlan
In: Information Resources Management Association, ed. Mobile Devices in Education: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice (pp. 180-209)
ISBN : 9781799817574 | Publisher : IGI Global

Introduction to Beyond the language classroom: researching MOOCs and other innovations (2017-06-28)
Kan, Qian and Bax, Stephen
In: Kan, Qian and Bax, Stephen eds. Beyond the language classroom: researching MOOCs and other innovations (pp. 1-4)
ISBN : 978-1-908416-52-0 | Publisher :

Design and user evaluation of a mobile app to teach Chinese characters. (2016)
Rosell-Aguilar, Fernando and Kan, Qian
In: Palalas, Agnieszka and Ally, Mohamed eds. The International Handbook of Mobile-Assisted Language Learning. (pp. 399-434)
ISBN : 978-7-304--07464-7 | Publisher : China Central Radio & TV University Press | Published : Beijing

Supporting intercultural learning For beginners’ Chinese language learners at the Open University, UK (2012-12)
Álvarez, Inma and Kan, Qian
In: Jin, Lixian and Cortazzi, Martin eds. Researching Intercultural Learning: Investigations in Language and Education (pp. 209-234)
ISBN : 9780230321335 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan

Beyond the language classroom: researching MOOCs and other innovations (2017-06-28)
Kan, Qian and Bax, Stephen eds.
ISBN : 978-1-908416-52-0 | Publisher :

Exploring trends, motivations and behaviours in the use of mobile devices for language learning in a higher education distance learning setting (2015-08-26)
Demouy, Valérie; Kan, Qian; Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes and Eardley, Annie
In : Eurocall 2015 (26-29 Aug 2015, Padua, Italy)

Using mobile devices for language learning in a higher education distance learning context: motivations and behaviours (2013-09)
Demouy, Valérie; Kan, Qian; Eardley, Annie and Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes
In : EUROCALL 2013 (11-14 Sep 2013, Évora, Portugal)