BLC Travel Grant Report

I attended three ten-day Chinese teaching workshops held by National Cheng Kung University in Tainan city, Taiwan, on June 27, June 28, July 10, and July 24. The workshops were offered for teachers currently teaching Chinese in America. I gave a four-hour presentation at each of my three workshops on Teaching Advanced Chinese.

In the first and second hour of my workshop I introduced the textbook, teaching method, and teaching goal employed in the third-year Chinese language program at UC Berkeley. I categorized my materials into two parts and explained them in order.

I opened with teaching conversation: I have abandoned passive learning methods such as listening to tapes, and lead point-earning activities of choice questions instead. By analyzing, comparing, and summarizing the text, the instructor encourages students to ask questions so they become familiar with excellent words and sentences, as well as develop a native Chinese way of thinking. With regard to vocabulary learning, students are required to do exercises on distinguishing between synonyms in order to comprehend and practice word pairing and usage. I demonstrated my teaching method for patterns, i.e., reconstructing the sentence, by pairing two people into a group to practice five different patterns. My second category was on reading. I introduced how I give questions related to the text and initiate relevant activities. On teaching vocabulary, I illustrated how to have students differentiate between colloquial and written Chinese. I also gave examples on how I introduce a more advanced pattern or vocabulary item by giving comparisons with more preliminary choices, which effectively help students enhance their command of advanced language.

In the third hour I introduced my teaching method for fourth-year Chinese, by categorizing it into two parts: a course based on fiction reading and on non-fiction reading, i.e., social science. The non-fiction reading materials included social, political, and journalistic articles. These help students link language to their everyday lives. The fourth hour of my presentation, I explained the key points of fifth-year Chinese teaching.

Although my audience consisted of teachers from middle schools and colleges, they were very interested in my talk. They raised a lot of questions, particularly on the teaching of vocabulary and patterns, including how to make up more than ten pairs of word distinguishing in each class, how to break up sentences and rearrange them, how to manage degrees of difficulty, how to assess students’ learning, how to make up vocabulary quizzes and Web quizzes, and how to adequately make audio recordings for choice questions. I answered all these questions, extending my workshop to five hours. And yet, my audience and I both wished we could have had even more time for discussion.

After my workshop, a participant with the group from Chicago immediately invited me to Chicago for two workshops held on August 12 and 13. Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, I wasn’t able to attend.

Thanks again to the BLC for the financial support!