Category: Language Learning

汉语教学之初体验 First Experiences of Teaching Chinese

By Yaqian Gai, University of Idaho Confucius Institute instructor in Boise, ID. She teaches an Exploring Mandarin Culture and Language Class at Boise High School. English translation found below. 一生之中至少要有几次冲动的念头,为奋不顾身的爱情,为说走就走的旅行,为闺蜜的友情等等。二零一七年的八月二十三日我为了教中文来到了地球的另一边,为实现自己的梦想,开启了汉语教学之旅。 有的人每天都在抱怨生活的空虚与孤寂却也不愿意跳出舒适的生活圈子。外面的世界很精彩也很无奈,我勇敢的走了出来,为自己走出的这一步鼓掌。 我来到的城市是爱达荷州的首府博伊西,这个城市的秋天美的让人沉醉和窒息。而我所在的中学又是博伊西最好的高中,我是这个学校的第一个中文老师,在学校门口张贴的教职工照片当中有了第一个中国来的汉语老师,每当看到自己的照片,我的内心是无比的骄傲,为自己更为祖国而自豪。在博伊西高中的历史上,在这个百年名校中,第一次有了中国老师的身影。我所教授的是中国文化和汉语语言。美国语言学家萨丕尔指出语言不能脱离文化尔而存在,不能脱离社会继承下来的各种做法和信念。跨文化交际看起来容易做起来难,需要各方面的综合素质。作为一名对外汉语教师,应在平时就注意培养自身的跨文化交际能力,并以此为基础积极推动汉语教学在世界范围内的推广。 我的学生对中国的文化有着浓厚的兴趣,我带领他们了解了中国的剪纸,大熊猫,中秋节的习俗,还给他们分享了月饼;我们认识了北京,长城,故宫,还了解了北京大学清华大学的国际留学生与专业。总而言之带领我的学生们了解它们感兴趣的中国文化与中国习俗。比较突出的一节课是介绍的北京京剧和脸谱介绍。孩子们通过看视频了解京剧的角色扮演,颜色所代表的人物性格。之后学生根据自己喜好的颜色对脸谱涂色,一方面是熟悉颜色另一方面了解京剧脸谱。与此同时,我们开展了一系列的活动和游戏来加强孩子们对脸谱和颜色的认识。从而加深他们的印象和认识。孩子对这一系列的教学安排显得好奇而激动,他们热情的参与其中,圆满的完成了这节课的教学任务。 对于孩子们的表现我真的想给他们全部点赞,你们太棒了。 There must be at least a few impulsive thoughts in your … Continue reading 汉语教学之初体验 First Experiences of Teaching Chinese

My Road to Language Learning and Teaching

Jing Tian, Chinese Instructor, University of Idaho Confucius Institute

English was, and is still a compulsory course in schools in China. Many kids hate that. I did. But now, after learning English for 23 years and teaching both English and Chinese for 15 years, my suggestion for my son is still “try to learn at least one foreign language very well”. That makes him hate me for a while, like I hated the president of my middle school.

I started to like learning English since I started to read and watch movies in English in college. I even got to talk with teachers from English-speaking countries. Suddenly I felt I was overblown with how big the world is and how different the peoples are. I laughed a long time when my British teacher told us that she quit smoking because her boyfriend was not willing to kiss an ashtray. I felt sad for a long time because my American teacher refused to use the coat that I offered when she was wearing short sleeves and it turned freezing cold outside after the class. Later I started to understand more. And I found myself more joyful, more understanding and more peaceful. I wanted to spread this feeling. That’s why, in addition to the fact that teaching language is considered a decent job in China, I started teaching languages.

I thought I was good enough in terms of both language and culture, because I was well-received by both my Chinese and foreign students and I could work as an interpreter very efficiently, until I began to teach Chinese here in the US.

Jokes, games, songs, soap plays and famous persons’ pictures were used a lot in my classes. My students loved them. So I tried the same here in the US, but failed, more than once, because the same picture or the same joke triggers different emotions in my American students. I thought a specific combination of materials would be very funny and can stimulate learning, but those materials were unknown to the students, let alone make them laugh. I started to ask around and do more researches. It turned out that I actually don’t know so much about the American culture. I began to change the strategy. I eliminated some pictures and began to ask students to put more funny ideas in the class. And the classroom began to be more harmonious, and I began to know more. It feels much better to see students enjoy the class while learning things.

There are more examples of how the cultural differences shocked me but made me a better person, and how I changed myself and thus influenced others.

I believe it is the same with the world outside the classroom. If we open out hearts, the world around us would be better, and there would be more light into our hearts.

I’d completely stopped hating the president of my middle school, actually I began to appreciate what he did, because without him pushing the students to learn English, I could never be me. And I hope I could also make a difference by teaching languages, even though what I do is just a tiny part of what’s happening in this enormous and diversified world.

Top 5 Chinese Language Learning Apps

Chinese is now the fastest growing language for second language learners, consequently there has been some really incredible learning apps developed for Chinese. Here is a list of 5 can’t-do-without Chinese learning apps. I still highly recommend that language learners consider formal education, learning Chinese is a journey and often requires personal guidance. That being said these apps are a great place to get started, awesome supplements and good way to maintain your Chinese between semesters.

1. MEMRISE, IOS and Android, Free

memrise

First on the list is Memrise. This is an awesome app for learners of all levels and introduces words in a very clever way. For each new word and character it introduces several mnemonic devices to help you remember the character, definition, tone and pronunciation. The program builds on itself, first you will learn the radicals that make up Chinese characters, than single character words, and then words made up of the multiple characters. Learning radicals is very important, it has been shown that students that memorize radicals first have a much easier time remembering new characters and words after. Lastly it uses adaptive teaching methods, so you review the words you struggle with more often than the words you learn easily. There are over 100 courses in Chinese, some better than others, from personal experience I can say there are great options for Survival Chinese, HSK of all levels, and courses on specific tasks such as menu reading.

2. PLECO, IOS and Android, Free to $79.99

pleco

From what I’ve seen this is the very best Digital Chinese to English dictionary and is totally indispensable for any language learner or expat living in China. The free version comes loaded, including hand writing input, flash cards and audio for pronunciation. You can choose to add-on several features and extra dictionaries individually or as packages. These include live translations with your phone’s camera, a document translator and stroke order diagrams.

3. QUIZLET, IOS and Android, Free

quizlet

This is a classic and useful for students of any level for nearly any subject. There is a great way to turn Quizlet into powerful Chinese writing learning software. You can create or download one of the many flash card packs with Chinese characters, then test yourself using the Chinese hand writing input on your phone. This is the best resource I’ve found for testing your ability to write characters from memory and is very customizable.

4. CHINESE SKILL, IOS and Android, Free

chinese skill

Do you love immersion learning software like Duo Lingo and Rosetta Stone? Unfortunately Rosetta Stone costs an arm and a leg and Duo Lingo doesn’t support Chinese. This app is very similar to those programs and does a great job teaching introductory Chinese. Chinese Skill uses a variety of techniques that incorporate writing, tones, reading, listening and speaking.

5. FluentU, IOS, 8$ to $18 per month

fluentuchinese2

This is the one app on the list that I haven’t used, but looks seriously cool. The downside is the pay wall, there is some limited free content, but the bulk of it needs to be paid for. FluentU takes their content straight from pop culture on the web, including viral videos, news articles and music. It ranks it by level and turns the them into teaching tools, providing realtime translations with videos, quizzes based on the content and flashcards. It also includes traditional lectures, and is coming to Android soon!

There you have it, my very favorite Chinese learning apps. There is more than one on this list that I find essential for my personal learning. If you are serious about taking your Chinese to the next level, come talk to us at the Confucius Institute. We have tons of classes at all levels, great instructors all of whom are native speakers, and lots of traditional resources in our library.