How adult students achieve great learning results
Different from young children who are enrolled into Mandarin Chinese classes by their parents, adult students generally start learning Chinese on their own initiatives. For one reason or another, they are interested in taking some Chinese lessons.
This initial interest is of great importance. And it is also true that, if not properly taken care of, this initial interest in Chinese or Chinese culture will diminish gradually. It could be certain circumstances that many people have little control of, such as demands at work, slowly wears off people’s interests in learning Chinese. Apart from that, the real killer, also the deadliest, is boredom. Bit by bit, Chinese lessons are no longer exciting. They are boring.
Boredom comes from many directions. It could be that the learning materials are boring, that grown up students are finally getting tired of using children’s textbooks. It could be that the format is boring, that text-vocabulary-grammar-exercise cycle finally loses its appeal. Or it is the boring content with a maddening repetitiousness, for example that, although useful, the deadening pronunciation drills or grammar drills are killing students’ spirit. Or it is the teacher who is only going through motions. Or perhaps just a feeling that, despite the time and effort, not much is being achieved.
There are many ways to prevent boredom from happening. The advantage of teacher-led classes is that good teachers, with their physical presence, can make a huge difference in the process of learning and have a great impact on students’ learning outcomes.
Good Chinese teachers play an important role to keep students engaged and to transfer their initial interest into a lasting pursuit for Chinese and Chinese culture. In other words, good teachers make Chinese classes interesting. Good teachers love their job and enjoy teaching Chinese. And, different from App or computer learning, good Chinese teachers have their own personalities, which come through their Chinese lessons.
There are great benefits to work with a good teacher. At MSL Master, April Zhang is such a teacher. Her dedication and enthusiasm for teaching and learning Chinese have inspired many students, and have brought great learning results.
It is often said that it is easy for children to learn a new language, but it is painful and slow for adult students. Even with some elements of truth, this is definitely an overly generalised statement. Adult students have many advantages. Their attention span is great, and they are willing to cooperate.
At MSL Master, most students are adult students. Many of them come back to school, even just a Chinese language school, after a long absence. And the huge difference this time is that they bring their rich life experiences into the classroom. April Zhang enjoys working with these students.
To help these students achieve the best learning outcome, April’s Mandarin lessons are structured with a number of carefully selected tasks, including communicative class activities embedded with targeted linguistic content, and constant revision exercises. The benefits are increased students’ knowledge retention, and proficient Chinese language skills.
Responsible for learning
Teachers encourage students to learn Chinese. The real motivation comes within each student. And successful students take great responsibility for their own learning. Not only do they participate actively in Chinese classes, but also spend time to learn on their own.
MSL Master provides Chinese textbooks and supporting resources for students to do self-study. There are also many other self-study books and online materials for this purpose. The current technology has made it easier than ever to search for Chinese learning resources, audio and video content, references books, Chinese grammar books, and so on.
In the real world, we need more than Chinese language skills. Social skills are just as important, if not more important. For this reason that team work and cooperations are built-in factors in many class activities. Students are encouraged to support each other both inside and outside of the classroom. Learning and practicing Chinese becomes a way to make friends, to solve problems together, and to discuss social issues.
At the same time, in order to contribute to such a collaborating environment, it is necessary that students exercise their own independent thinking, and form their own opinions. Learning Chinese opens up a pathway for students to come up with fresh thoughts and to share their in-depth analyses.
This aspect is April Zhang’s favourite part in the Chinese teaching and learning process. She enjoys listening to different viewpoints, as well as sharing hers. And many times, she puts her opinions first for students to challenge.
Even though adult students no longer need a report card, they need to know how they are doing in their Chinese study. The real testing ground for them is the real world, whether or not they can function well in a Chinese speaking environment.
Therefore, the ultimate objective for adult students is not a report card with an “A+”, rather, it is to be able to communicate well with Chinese speakers in both oral and written form, to be able to digest information presented in Chinese, and to be able to deliver information in Chinese.
With this objective in mind, April Zhang uses qualitative, portfolio-based assessment in her classes. There is no final big test which determines everything. Instead, there are a series of writings and presentations students must do to demonstrate their Chinese language ability and their communication skills.
This kind of assessment has the closest resemblance to what the real world demands. And each task brings students one step closer to the ultimate success in learning Chinese.