How students get the most out of their Chinese class time
In teacher-led Chinese classrooms, students are not passive. They own their success, also share the responsibilities for the failures.
Here are things that students can do to make the most out of their Chinese classes.
Responsible for learning
Teachers like to brag how they encourage students to learn Chinese. But in my view, the real motivation comes within each student. Successful students take great responsibility for their own learning.
These students participate actively in their Chinese classes, and also spend time to learn on their own. They’re probably driven by cultural interests, future job opportunities or pure academic challenge.
They know why they want to learn Chinese and they know they are taking things in their own hands to make sure they’ll succeed in learning.
They like to use available tools and resources to enrich their learning experiences.
I think that’s admirable.
Be a team player
In the real world, we need more than Chinese language skills. Social skills are just as important, if not more important.
Students who support each other both inside and outside of the classroom enjoy learning more, and have a better learning outcome. Learning Chinese becomes a way to know people, to solve problems and to discuss social issues.
It is especially true when the result is assessed based on group activities.
This is one of the reasons that I favour soft goals than passing HSK tests in learning Chinese. Soft goals are community based while passing HSK tests is only about individuals.
In order to contribute to such a collaborating environment, it is necessary that students look out for each other and come up with fresh ideas.
Bring in something extra
Many students have great ideas. Bring them to the Chinese classes.
If there is a picture which is related to the topic, share it with the Chinese teacher and fellow students. If someone knows an interesting story, try to tell it in Chinese in the class. Find ways to practice Chinese with the teacher, and engage in discussions with other students.
The only thing not to be concerned too much about is mistakes.
When learning Chinese, making mistakes is inevitable. Dealing with mistakes is part of the learning process.
A smart thing for students to do is to ask the Chinese teacher NOT to correct each and every mistake as it happens. Instead, it is better to discuss some of the mistakes later in a designated time.
How to help Chinese teachers
Teachers have flaws, and students can help them become better teachers.
Learning Chinese follows a Chinese Learning Pyramid, starting from understanding Chinese to actively using Chinese, where there are many places that students can step in to create a favourite learning environment for themselves.
The simplest and the most effective thing students can do is to study ahead. Spend some time looking up a dictionary and get the “understand its meaning” part right. Some grammar books can explain the “form” very well.
With so many Apps available, it is really easy to accomplish. I think this is where Chinese teachers can be replaced by learning Apps.
This is a tremendous help for teachers as well, allowing them to spend limited class hours for the most crucial part of the learning, practices, to help students move knowledge from printed on book pages/screens to knowledge that can be easily recalled and used.
When changes are needed
Sometimes things don’t go according to the plan. It is the same for learning Chinese, even for those very responsible students.
In Chinese classrooms, there are signs showing that it is not working no matter how hard students try.
It’ll be time for a change.
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