Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Chinese class (Grade 1)

It was a grade one class, Finnish students learning Chinese as a foreign language. Pia taught in Finnish most of the time, but the students, after having learnt for a month, could already say ‘Ni hao’(hello), ‘tai yang’(sun), ‘yue liang’(moon), ‘xing xing’(star), ‘zai jian’(goodbye), and sing songs in Chinese about numbers and greeting people. The kids kept saying ‘Ni hao’ to me, and when they left, some of them would come up to me and said ‘zai jian’ individually. One of the little girls was even wearing some pictorial language t-shirt.

They were singing songs and playing gestures with ‘tai yang yuan, yue liang wan, xiao xing xing’(the round sun, the moon crescent, little stars) - and my contribution was ‘xiao xing xing shan yi shan’ (little twinkling stars). The students loved it, and Pia reinforced these words in different ways, eg playing games, songs, and asking them to listen to it and do the gestures etc.

Pia also showed pictures of mooncakes to let the students draw a bit after a long day of school (the lesson was the last one). She used technology really well by showing pictures of mooncakes on the projector screen.

The experience was that they mainly learnt by doing and following the teacher. The policy of the school was that the grade one chinese students should not learn pin yin and too much of writing practice (for fear that this might cause confusion with their mother tongue phonetic system and be too frustrating for some students). They could pick up the language very quickly and were very keen to learn the words. Pia was rather worried that learning Chinese words would be too much at the beginning, so they only learnt the numbers and a few very simple words in Chinese. Mainly conversational Chinese, and none of them was afraid to use Chinese at all.

They sang me this Chinese song 'Our friends are here'. How amazing!

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