Become a successful Mandarin teacher. Spend less time for better and more effective lesson plans. Be richly and justly awarded for the creativities and passions that are devoted into each lesson. The most important is, become a lifelong friend to your students.
Teacher-led Chinese classes have huge advantages over learning Apps or computer programs, when teachers do not bore students with endless PPTs, which take away students’ focus from the real learning. As a fellow Mandarin teacher, April suggests teachers use highly interactive and stimulating class activities to nurture students’ interests and help them make gigantic progress in learning Chinese.
Together, Mandarin Express series and Chinese Reading and Writing series provide a four-stage learning path for students for progress from complete beginners to proficient Chinese speakers with substantial cultural knowledge. These four stages are: Introduction, Foundation, Development, and Acculturation.
Each stage has its own objectives, determines a different type of instruction from teachers, and requires different kinds of participation from students. Teachers must understand the key challenges faced by students at different stages, in order to best help them achieve outstanding results.
Students have no prior knowledge of the Chinese language.
Students get familiar with the sound of Chinese, learn basic sentence structures, and carry on basic conversations of daily topics.
Students' own language is the main language of instruction. For some often used classroom phrases like, "I have a question", students are encouraged to use Chinese. Students learn Chinese listening and speaking through Pinyin, and they are not required to learn Chinese characters.
Students have no difficulty understanding the texts. The vocabulary is small and sentence structures are straightforward. Students participate in many interesting class activities and finish carefully designed exercises, during which students stay alert and focused. Students' personal input is limited.
Students have learned some Chinese. But they have no knowledge of the Chinese writing system.
Students acquire 320 basic Chinese characters and develop sophisticated skills in reading and writing Chinese texts. At the same time, they learn to be expressive on various topics. Sentence structures continue to be basic.
This stage sees a gradual increase of Chinese as the main language of instruction. Students continue to advance their verbal expressiveness through Pinyin, while slowly developing their Chinese reading and writing ability, which re-enforces and strengthens their listening and speaking.
Chinese Reading and Writing classes – Texts are simple. The difficulty lies in getting used to and remembering the characters. Students are requested to do various reading and writing exercises to be able to: (1) know where to draw word boundaries in a given Chinese text; (2) understand the meaning of a given character in a context; (3) comprehend the meaning of the entire written text; and (4) write a short essay in a given topic. Students' personal input is limited.
Mandarin Express classes – Gradually, topics become more and more complex, and more time is devoted to various discussions, such as sharing ideas, interviewing, and so on. Students' personal input gradually increases.
Students have gained essential skills in reading and writing Chinese text, and are able to carry on conversations of various social topics.
Students learn 2000 — 2500 characters rapidly, acquire more complex sentence structures, and develop their abilities in presenting and writing in Chinese on many contemporary topics.
Chinese is the main language of instruction. Pinyin is no longer included in the textbooks.
Classes are organised around sharing ideas, presenting information and writing short essays. Students' personal input is actively sought after. Peer support and correction are explicitly encouraged both inside and outside of classrooms.
Students have developed good Chinese language skills, and have also acquired some understanding on Chinese cultural practices and traditional values.
Students read long analytical articles and a selection of classical texts, and get an acute sense of Chinese cultural literacy in various aspects, such as history, literature, philosophy, and so on.
Chinese is the main language of instruction. Students also give mini-lectures of various kinds.
Students' active participation is essential. There is a deliberate "lack" of information in the textbooks, which students must fill in. Students search for information and present their findings, thoughts and theories. Group discussions are throughout the classes. Peer support is indispensable both inside and outside of classrooms.
For Chinese teachers who purchase MSL Master textbooks, they can get access to these Teacher’s Manuals free of charge. If there are any questions, April gives talks and workshops occasionally on how to use MSL Master materials. All Chinese teachers are invited. For any additional request, she is available for hire for teacher’s training sessions, or for presentations on teaching and learning Chinese.
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