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From battlefield to playground: Launching Chinese Writing Contest 2024

Written by April Zhang on Sunday, 19 May 2024. Posted in Chinese Writing Contest

From battlefield to playground: Launching Chinese Writing Contest 2024

Hey fellow Chinese language learners! It's that time of the year. Time to show off your creativities and Chinese writing skills with 320 Chinese characters.

Get ready for Chinese Writing Contest 2024! It's bragging time! 😀

In this contest, depth is valued more than quickness, ingenuity more than vitality, and creativity more than erudition.  

There are many Chinese Writing Contests. But this is the ONLY one that comes with a strict character requirement. Only 320 unique Chinese characters can be used. This requirement effectively places students who have studied Chinese for ten years in a position similar to those who have learned for just one year. And that is a good thing.

With this contest, we intend to bring a shift in Chinese language learning from “learning more” to “learning better”.

The focus of Chinese learning is often directed by the question “how many Chinese characters have you learned?” With that, students spend endless hours either looking up new characters or memorising them. Consequently, students rarely experience any exuberant feelings. Learning Chinese is like fighting in a battlefield where progress is made with heavy sacrifices.

Learning Chinese should not be like that. It should be fun, should be like playing in a playground.

There are at least three levels of fun students absolutely enjoy. And they should have opportunities to enjoy them.

The first level of fun comes from learning Chinese using interesting games or activities. This type of fun comes from outside stimulation.

The second level of fun comes from discovering new ideas or concepts when learning Chinese. This type of fun is a combination of external learning materials and an internally provoked mind.

The third level and also the highest level of fun is when students write something meaningful, something that reflects who they are or what they are searching in life. This is a creation process from within, a pure student-centred learning mode. Students learn as they write, and they write as they learn.

So, yes, learning Chinese is absolutely fun.

Therefore, in order to change the battlefield learning experience to a fun playground learning experience, we must ask a different question. 

The question we should be asking is “how much Chinese reading and writing have you done?” With this broader question, the road to fun, joyful and exciting learning experience is wide open. And every student is instantly turned into a creator.

Indeed, everyone is a creator when he or she is a child. As people grow up and grow old, they gradually lose sight of their creative side. Fortunately, for people who are learning Chinese, they have the opportunity to unleash their creativities once again, and to experience joyful and pleasant surprises once again. 

In this Chinese Writing Contest, 320 Chinese characters are like small pieces of Lego. Anything is possible and many things can be created, just as the famous artist Pablo Picasso once said, “Everything you can imagine is real.” 

Learning is playing.

Playing is learning.

This is the spirit of this Chinese Writing Contest, which opens to all students regardless of age or occupation, to play around the Chinese characters, and to have a good time.

We especially encourage beginner students to participate. A good writing experience is particularly important for them. For a variety of reasons, beginner students don’t get to write much. Their writing exercise is frequently limited to putting the words into the right order or simply making a sentence with a given word. It doesn’t have to be this way. This Chinese Writing Contest invites all beginner students to show that they can write Chinese well. 

Moreover, the age of AI has dawned on us. Chat GPT and others like it have demonstrated remarkable skills in writing stories, no matter what languages you ask. People are afraid that computers will replace them. 

I suppose that some will be replaced inevitably, while others won’t because they understand more about themselves and the differences between humans and machines.

There are still things that computers can not do yet. This Chinese Writing Contest is one of them. Computers are not up to a task that can not be calculated by large language models. 

But humans can. Chinese language learners around the world have consistently demonstrated their ingenuity in using a mere 320 Chinese characters to create a wonderful universe. 

This is truly a chance to be human. You can’t ask machine to do a human’s job.

There are also prizes!

This year, great prizes have lined up, including:

  • One year subscription of NinChanese
  • One year digital & print subscription of Babel Magazine
  • A writing application Calmly Writer
  • Become a published author by MSL Master

Finally, some suggestions for all participants: get clarity on what you want to write, think about the simplest ways to write it, and write and re-write to get it right. 

So, get ready.

Do some preparation. 

Let's see what you've got!

#320ChineseCharactersChallenge 

#ChineseWritingContest

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To get some inspirations, take a look at the winning submissions from the previous contests here: https://mslmaster.com/index.php/chinese-textbooks/easy-to-read-series.

There have been some good questions from the previous participants. Read them here:

Is public voting fair for candidates who have few followers on social media?

Do you have to change those characters that are not included in the list of 320 characters?

Can you submit more than one story?

 

About the Author

April Zhang

April Zhang

April Zhang is the founder of MSL Master and she enjoys teaching and interacting with students. She constantly explores new and interesting ways of teaching Chinese through creative and imaginative activities.

With her help, many students have achieved outstanding result, which has enriched their understanding about China and has significantly contributed to their work.