Link to the Ranking: http://www.effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty (Gist: The Foreign Servies Institute, FSI, designated Chinese as a “Category Five” language, along with Korean, etc. as the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.)
Depending on your level and interest, you can find some very good materials here. The themes range from Kungfu to travel to everyday life, news, and cultural customs and festivals. Take a look. Perhaps you can listen to them during your commute!) l
This footage has Chinese subtitles. The translation is not entirely precise but pretty decent.
suitable for an advanced level, language and culture course. For the Unit on geography. Have students watch the documentary and zero in on one particular geo location of their interest. Explore it in detail in groups. Create a wiki page introducing the location. Assign similar components for the wiki page so groups will be able to hold similar expectations and control the extensiveness of the project.
Language practice can be embedded. For example, have students translate some parts and compare them with the subtitle provided on the screen.
This is a recent feature by Peter Hessler in New Yorker.
- 1) translating parts of the feature;
- 2) comparing the river to lives along the Mississippi (this is for much advanced group).
- 3) exploring the works by Peter Hessler and having students present and create wiki–China from the eyes of a western journalist.
Teaching suggestions for a culture and language class:
- before watching, have students research about China in 1955–what social system, what historical context.
- come up with a list of things one may expect to see in a documentary film of Beijing by a french film maker (a “foreigner” seeing China for the first time). Hints:what people dress like, means of commuting, iconic scenarios, views on the market and streets, color schemes, forms of art.
- watch together, have students take notes of things that touched them, or struck them as odd or interesting.
- run a list of things that students find interesting and why.
- discuss the film maker’s stance, and how you can tell.
- have students work in groups to research for periods after 1955. Give a period for a group: the great leap, the cultural revolution, the open-door policy and economic reform, the turmoil of 1989, the turn of the century, the 21 century. Give students specific tasks:1) important events; 2) one important social change.
- Students present.
- Essay writing.
《爸爸去哪儿》”Dad, Where are You Going?” a reality TV show, a good resource to learn Chinese the immersion style
This reality TV show has been very popular lately in mainland China. The idea is that celebrities and their kids go on travel and solve challenges as set by the show. -you may or may not like the idea of reality TV, esp. kids put in spotlight, these episodes are good for practicing your Mandarin and exploring the changing morals, traditions and customs in China.
I only learned of these new books and haven’t read them myself, marking down here to remind me to check them out. Picture books in Chinese, written with conscious language pedagogy design, is a good idea. This caters to a huge market apparently. But too often books available are too serious and contrived. I am hoping to see books that are smart, written with humor, ease and see the world with children’s eyes.
I will write an update once I have a chance to read these books–so far the illustrations and titles look lovely.
Sample title: 宝宝，吃饭啦 It’s Time To Eat (Chinese Edition): A Children’s Picture Book for Early/Beginner Readers, Bedtime Story, kids book collection, Education, Funny Humor ebook, Chinese Story, Mandarin, Pinyin
If you teach AP Chinese in high schools, you may find the following handouts from the 2015 National Chinese Language Conference useful resources.
- instructional strategies and written presentational tasks
- building literacy and assessing growth
- best practices in reading and literacy development K5
- classroom management and discipline
You can find the full transcript of the PPT slides below the embedded slides.
On the right hand side, you can find other related handouts.