In our methods course, we have a mini Chinese lesson during most class sessions. The purpose of the Chinese lesson is to provide a context for thinking about teaching and learning a new language. Also, we want to model strategies for teaching and learner interaction in the target language. On this page, we will take notes on what we learned.

8/28/07 - 1.1.N.SL.g / 1.1.N.SL.i

Language Objective: Learning to recognize and say numbers from 1-5.
1(yī), 2 (èr), 3 (sān), 4 (sì), 5 (wǔ)
Instructional Techniques: Teacher said the numbers and wrote them on the whiteboard. Students were then given a card with a number written on it. They were asked to mingle around the group and find the other people who had the same number.
  • It's hard to learn even simple things as a complete beginner. We had forgotten how difficult and interesting it can be to learn to count!
  • It was good how the teacher stayed in the target language even when it was tempting to move to English.
  • A variety of student involvement -- listening, speaking, moving around, mixing with other students
  • Problem with understanding the task -- Some students just showed their cards instead of saying the numbers. This problem could have been solved if the teacher had more clearly modeled the task - perhaps showing students how to "hide" their cards.
  • Individual students didn't feel nervous to speak because the entire group was speaking together.

8/30/07 - 1.1.N.SL.g / 1.1.N.SL.i

Language Objective: Learning to recognize and say numbers 6-10 and introduce how to form 60, 70, 80
6 (liù), 7 (qī), 8 (bā), 9 (jiǔ), 10 (shí)
Instructional Techniques: Teacher reviewed 1-5; Teacher said 6-10 and pointed to numbers on white board, students repeated. Students divided into groups; another student had a "mystery number" on one side and a ? on the other. These people went to groups and tried to get the other students to guess what number they had.
  • When learners got confused, some checked out.
  • If students can't see the prompt, they can't answer.
  • Folded pieces of paper were confusing.
  • Learner ambiguity
  • Questioning group felt "out of the loop"
  • Learners created their own activity when they were confused; teacher let them continue, but recognized the confusion; How can I make it clearer?
  • Not enough practice time; overload
  • Easier to learn when the sounds are connected to English; 6-9 were more difficult
  • Assessment issues? When teacher noticed students were confused, she went on.
  • Effective explanation of how to form 60, 70, 80, 90
  • At the early stage, consider keeping the concepts distinct and separate.

9/4/07 - 1.1.N.SL.h / 1.1N.SL.b Alex, Jade, Julia

Language Objectives: Learning family words such as father, mother, sister, brother, I
bàba, māma, jiĕjie, gēge, wŏ
Instructional Techniques: Teacher brought up photos of family members with word pronunciations below the photos and the students repeated the teacher. Teacher hung same photos on white board and used # 1 - 5 to point to photos and students repeated family words. Students were given same 5 photos each and teacher said family word and students laid corresponding photo on the table.
  • Hand movements aren't clear to the learner; teach key command words early on?
  • Cognates to native language, English
  • Visual pronunciation on pictures helped
  • TPR and more teacher centered, students respond
  • Repeat previously learned speech
  • Simple activity with clear instructions
  • As lessons continue, ease with speaking and learning
  • Reuse same pictures throughout lesson

9/11/07 - 1.2.N.L.a

Language Objectives: Learning commands (listen!, speak!, sit down!, stand up!, eat, drink)
tīng, shuō, qĭng zuò, qĭng zhànqĭlai, chī, hē
Instructional Techniques: Teacher taught commands using gestures, and got students to understand these commands and act on them. Teacher did not expect students to speak at all, but allowed them the opportunity.
  • Good to have students move around
  • Less stress when students can react to commands, rather than having to speak
  • Some hand gestures cause confusion (cultural differences in gestures)
  • Can be easier to learn language when pairing sounds with actions
  • Words have been used before in previous lessons - this facilitated student intake
  • Teacher had trouble deciding what to put in the lesson (review numbers and/or family members?)
  • Students notice a shift in motivation to learn Chinese by this fourth lesson - motivation has increased across the class!
    • General interest in languages carried over to interest in Chinese because of the new accessibility, and a stress-free learning environment
    • Learners have experienced the thrill of understanding something in a new language
    • Implications for the classroom: "You can still learn when there isn't a quiz hanging over you."

Date: 9 - 18 - 07

Language Objective: Construct a last minute review lesson
Instructional Techniques: Students broke up into groups and discussed possible lessons dealing with numbers, family members, and commands. Then instructor performed one that the groups agreed on to show how it would be done.
  • Important to make it enjoyable, such as a game
  • Need to remove scaffolding (i.e. gestures and English)
  • Mix-up review material so that it is integrated in lesson
  • Sources for quick reviews can be what helped you, past classroom experiences and collaborating with others
  • Context and gestures help students with word/sentence complexity; students can learn grammatical principles implicitly

Date: 9-20-07

Language Objective: To introduce a few basic foods and beverages
táo, pútao, píngguŏ, shuĭ, kĕlè, niúnăi
Instructional Techniques: Using a student beforehand to model the activity, students broke up into pairs and gave commands on what to eat or drink with the given materials.
  • Technology is not always necessary, but can aide in learning
  • Importance of modeling using the same materials- confusion between the teacher's materials and the materials for activity
  • Test learning by making the information not readily available- ex. Put the vocab words on back of paper instead of the front
  • Importance of retention- Comprehension during each lesson, but how much will the students remember over time?
  • Time and practice are essential- responsibility of both student AND teacher
  • Classroom set-up should be considered during lesson to make sure everyone can see/hear if visual aides are present

Date: 9-27-07

Language Objective: Making sentences using previous vocabulary words.
Instructional Techniques: Review 6 drink and fruit words, then the 2 verbs "to eat" and "to drink" and the 5 family member names. Then, show how students can pair these words together to create a sentence. Model this first by writing on the board and then have students make sentences together in pairs.
  • Activity for students was easy since it was already modeled by teacher previously.
  • Similar sentence structure to English, so easy for students to understand through comparison.
  • Interesting and exciting for students to "accomplish" being able to make a sentence.
  • Attitude of teacher can reflect and rub off on students; excitement demonstrated in teacher and students.
  • Scaffolding in second language makes it possible to conduct majority of lesson in the target language.
  • How do we make this activity meaningfully communicative? Maybe making context more culturally based?

Date: 10-2-07

Language Objective: Learn new food vocabulary and use new and old knowledge to form new sentences.
mántou, bāozi, jiăozi, yóutiáo, nín, shenme
Instructional Techniques: Review words we used to form sentences last time, learn new vocabulary words for food, put new sentences on the board and show how they relate to previous knowledge until students understand the new sentences.
  • Brought back previous knowledge and added to it- good!
  • Learned new vocabulary but didn't understand what they food items were- hard to retain information when students don't know what it is.
  • Compare new food words to something similar that students would recognize, use comparison pictures, or show what is in the foods to help them understand what the foods are.
  • Maybe this would be an appropriate situation to use English- to explain what the foods are and help students associate vocabulary with a meaning.
  • Bring copies of a Chinese menu that has the Chinese name with English explanations so the teacher doesn't have to switch to English but students will still learn the meaning of the foods.
  • Would be fun to bring in these foods (if possible).
  • Teacher used some English on the board but did not switch into English speaking.
  • Learning the new sentence was difficult- students were confused about what the new things meant.
  • Modeling a restaurant situation first might have made this more clear.
  • Recognized new vocabulary from hearing the teacher speak in previous class experiences.

Date: 10/25/07

Language Objective: Learn colors, shapes, and sizes in relation to each other.
Instructional Techniques: Wrote words on the board in their corresponding colors and wrote the words of the shapes with the actual drawing of the shape in order for the students to visualize. Used volunteers to play a game in front of the class with students back to back with one student describing the shape in their hand and the other student picking out the shape they are describing.
  • It was good to be able to learn through the volunteers.
  • Easy to understand because of the way the students could visualize.
  • Set up the board a little bit differently - making sure that all the shapes are on the same side.
  • Board organization may have caused a bit of confusion.
  • Using a different representation for explaining big and small instead of also using shapes.
  • Possibly making it more contextualized by using "I would like..." which we learned in the previous lesson.
  • Visuals were necessary.
  • There was great excitement when students could understand and complete the task. We think the satisfaction came from the challenge of figuring out something in Chinese. This would not have been thrilling if we had simply had the task explained to us in English.

Date: 10/30/07

Language Objective: Review colors and learn clothing.
Instructional Techniques: We reviewed the colors, shapes, and sizes on the white board. We were taught different types of clothing that were on the screen and we repeat the words in Chinese. We played a game saying the colors as we passed around a glove with different clothing articles in them. We the team leader said stop, the person with the glove pulled out a piece of clothing, read it aloud, and then another person drew it on the board.
  • Helpful if there was music for the game.
  • The review was easy to understand, but when we changed tasks and did the task (game) it became confusing.
  • Ways to improve: Talk with a group of students before the class starts so they can model for the class.
    • Make it more like the game hot potato.
    • Make instructions more clear.
    • Make it more of a contest or game: Motivation for students.
    • Go buy cheap clothes and when the person pulls out the article of clothing they could run up to the front and put on the clothes.
  • Having two groups was a good idea.

Date: 11/15/07

Language Objective: Learn Chinese pinyin.
Instructional Techniques: Teacher explanation and Video clips.
Materials: Here is the link where you can find all the sounds we have learned:
Keep practicing and enjoy!

Date: 11/27/07

Language Objective: (Pronunciation Review
Instructional Techniques: (fill in)
  • use informal feedback and student input to guide your lesson plans
  • more confident when there was time to practice
  • pronunciation -- hard to hear when choral repetition; modeling vs. guessing?
  • clear task -- challenge of "cachophony"
  • lots of sounds; trouble of remembering; information overload
  • how far to push people?
  • add a writing component?
  • scaffold the material
  • need to hear good models often
  • teach discrete sounds/phonics -- pros and cons
  • metalinguistic
  • need for meaning behind sounds
  • tongue twisters? exhilarating or frustrating? cultural aspect? phrases link languages

Date: 12/04/07

Language Objective: Chinese Zodiac: Animals and Character Traits
Instructional Techniques: Visuals with vocabulary and Information Gap activity
  • Incorporated culture and vocabulary
  • Pretending to understand
  • More useful if pictures were of animals who actually had those characteristics
  • Difficult for learners
  • Good to have animals with the corresponding vocab of the zodiac years
  • Visuals to help with lesson: realia, motions for animals, talking about cultural comparisons to aid in learning, sounds (different sound effects for different languages.
  • Assigning a sign was a good idea
  • Make activity more clear (each person's example was different) show activity on paper/READ DIRECTIONS!
  • Make sure vocab is given in a clear way
  • Was this lesson communicative? Was it contextualized?
  • Contextualized: Topic we are familiar with, culturally authentic, begin with what everyone's sign is; also good to use adjectives with it, Some we don't necessarily associate with (let people pick what they associate with), giving us what we are is not contextualizing. Taken seriously for Chinese people?; could use more adjectives for limited number of years
  • Communicative: Use of sentences, understanding each other, able to listen and talk at our level
  • Animals could share personality traits
  • Vocabulary presentation: not necessarily contextualized, but the presentation was still beneficial for learning vocabulary. Repetition was helpful as well as English translation of traits.

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