Like any other language, Mandarin Chinese is also quite challenging and interesting to learn at the same time. Certain, much depends on the way you approach learning as well as teaching techniques applied by the instructor.
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I has interested in Ms. Wang’s amazing and unconventional techniques to mastering Mandarin Chinese and this is one of the core reasons I agreed on attending this course in future. In fact, being in the 8th grade at Pierre Van Cortlandt School has become a real adventure for me to enjoy because all lessons dedicated to studies languages do not involve ordinary techniques as I used to apply.
Instead of boring drill and practice, I have realized that singing pop songs and rhyming words is much more effective and exciting. Integrating music and technologies into Mandarin Chinese lessons greatly encourages learning more about the language and developing personal skills, abilities, and approaches to learning.
Besides, composing your own chants is also a great idea because it is quite creating and engaging and because it allows to memorize new sentences and vocabularies much faster. It is just like a song that you are humming and that you can get out of your head. This is why I am extremely keen on learning this course in future and apply the obtained skills to other subjects.
In my opinion, desire, interest, and realization of purpose for learning are the main underpinnings to start learning any discipline (Tovani, 2004, p. 11). Yet, the approaches that have been chosen for learning matter as well because they create a favorable climate for gaining experiences and mastering literate skills.
Learning Perspectives In Terms Of Literacy
Main Students’ Strengths and Challenging Areas in Learning Mandarin Chinese
While learning languages, there is a great number of vocabulary, semantics, grammatical structures that should be learnt. What is more interesting is that learning another language often implies comparison with the languages you have mastered and, therefore, the new information is always processed and acquired with particular reference to personal background and experience.
In addition, learning language is also learning more about new culture and traditions. In this respect, songs and music are exactly the ways to convey the essence of Chinese culture and ethnicity.
Besides, students seem to be fully engaged into this activity because their interest is focused not only on listening and learning new words, but also on singing and learning the new words of a popular song.
Indeed, this factor is to an extent decisive in receiving the highest results in learning Mandarin Chinese because students often lack understanding of a particular language because of the established cultural vacuum.
In fact, songs also enhance the communication between a student and a teacher that leads to building strong relations and creating a more favorable environment for learning and acquiring new knowledge.
Moreover, singing songs and producing personal rhymes advance sound-pronunciation relationships that are fundamental for successful training. With regard to the above, Zaraysky (2009) states that “if you memorize songs in a foreign language, you learn the cadence and melody of language” (p. 46).
Indeed, knowing songs is a good warming up activity because it enhances your interest about culture and you are exciting about learning more melodies. Therefore, mastery of music generates greater mastery at learning languages.
Teacher’s Evaluation of Student Performance
Assessment is an inherent component of a learning process and teacher’s task here is to be consistent in marketing students’ achievement pursuant to the material as well as approaches to learning this material being introduced.
In order to effectively assess the learning outcomes, Ms. Wang resorts to using specific verses, texts, or passages for students to read, understand, and pronounce in accordance with the rules learnt while splitting the songs into intonation and semantic patterns.
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Such an approach to evaluating is congruent with the teaching techniques applied by a teacher and, therefore, students have easily understood the scope of the assignment.
Second approach Ms. Wang adheres to is an individualistic method of providing students with feedback on oral and writing comprehension.
It is important to use this method while assessing students’ progress because not all students can achieve similar level of progress while listening to the music and creating intonation patterns due to the different types of memory.
In order words, a teacher should identify students’ gaps to be fulfilled and focus on the strengths that each student has.
Visual Aids: Contribution and Approaches
In order to amply the effectiveness of the oral presentation, visual aids introduction is an inherent contribution to learning foreign language. In particular, using pictures, diagrams, and charts aids students to comprehend the material, increase their cultural awareness, enable interaction and communication and provide a relevant context for the language use.
In this respect, Ms. Wang makes use of Smart Board to grab students’ attention and demonstrate peculiarities of the language structure.
An interactive Smart Board encourages students greatly and help them activate their visual memory skills. Students seem to be very much interesting in using digital pens and studying specific information on their own board.
Besides, such technology provides students with more opportunities to research independently and learn new facts about Chinese culture. Finally, the software also integrate a true collaborative learning atmosphere into the classroom making lessons more engaging and captivating.
All interactive games introduced by Ms. Wang are based on the interaction between a student and a computer and between a student and a teacher. Applying to modern technologies, student can gain experience and skills in studying with the help of software, which is especially effective in the era of online technologies.
Importantly, such an approach also involves handwriting so that the teacher is able to see how well a student memorizes spelling of certain words and what problems they has in the majority of cases.
Specific Wonderings Related To Visual And Oral Literacy As Well As The Reading Process
Importance of Visual and Oral Literacy Development
Best Approaches for Developing Students’ Visual and Oral Literacy in Mandarin Chinese Class
I believe it is quite smart and wise on the teacher’s part to engage technology and music into studying foreign languages because it greatly contributes to advancing students’ oral and writing literacy. To be more exact, teacher tries not only to evaluate the way new vocabulary is comprehended, but the way students are involved in the course of learning.
Ms. Wang asks students to introduce the songs that have been composed by themselves and research on the peculiarities of pronouncing particular words and sentences, and passages. Using beat and rhythm, it is important for her to teach students to pronounce words in accordance with the established beat.
Diversity of intonation patterns, as a rule, provides students with a wider range of options to practice their pronunciation and learn new techniques of memorizing the material.
Aside from music and intonation, Ms. Wang also initiates students in using technologies and applications to deepen our knowledge of learning foreign languages.
Electronic dictionaries enabling to listen to indigenous pronunciation, a number of pictures and situations attached to a particular vocabulary encourage students to learn faster and gain experience in speaking Mandarin Chinese.
Accessing Students’ Visual and Oral Literacy Skills while Studying Mandarin Chinese
Oral reporting can be a valuable contribution for student to organize, research, and delivering information to the audience. Besides, the visual aids that students provide for oral presentations also assist in promoting visual representation successfully.
Besides, using oral reports is a great activities can teachers can apply to while relating literacy skills to any subject area (Altieri, 2010, 154). Hence, students may be required to study the word etymology, or research on specific application of a word in different semantic and historical contexts.
In fact, teacher may assess not only the quality of the delivered information but the quality of presenting information to the audience. This mix will enable teacher to evaluate oral literacy from different perspectives.
In order to evaluate the writing literacy, teacher may ask student to resort to an inquiry-based approach to evaluate their critical thinking, decision-making, and problem solving skills. In this respect, the main task of the teacher lies in assessing the way students understand the actual process of inquiry.
When it comes to researching language, teacher should evaluate the quality of presented findings as well as techniques students use to present the material.
According to Lynn Bustle (2004), “it is almost ironic that, at a time when young people are becoming credible consumers of mass media and popular culture, curricular standards and pedagogical practices move further from real-life engagements with media to more traditional approaches to teaching and learning” (p. 417).
Interpreting this, it is crucial for students to know more about modes of the visual representation being a powerful tool for shaping their words. What is more important that the application of multiple sign system encourages event the least motivated students to re-evaluate their literate level of competences.
Referring to my particular cases, I am planning to further examine the integration of real-life experience into compiling visual aids, engagement into computer games and music while studying Mandarin Chinese. Such an approach will help me define the most effective ways to advance Mandarin literacy learning.
The concept of perception and visualization is another crucial moment that should be conceived by students if they want to effectively master the language. Anglin, Vaez, and Cunningham (2004) state, “pictures will be interpreted differently depending on the attitude taken by the eye of the beholder” (p. 866).
With respect to this, I consider it purposeful to move on with learning perception theories to understand how visualization and comprehension are connected as it can greatly enhance the learning outcomes for students studying Mandarin Chinese.
Besides visual representation of the material also helps to understand the connection between visual cognition and learning procedures, which are the foundational values for teachers and the main underpinnings for assessing students progress and development.
Collecting Information Techniques
Keeping an Observation Log and Collecting Students’ Works and Quiz
In order to gather all relevant data and analyze theoretical frameworks within empirical context, I am planning to keep an observation log while studying the case. To be more exact, I will record in detail students’ classroom activities, including social interactions, games, their visual representations, as well as their attitude to the learning course in general.
The examination will be aimed at defining the correlation between the teaching approach and students’ language performance. In addition, in-depth records and notes taken will enable me understand the actual shifts occurred to students as well as additional method to be implemented to improve students’ performance.
Analysis of students’ works, quizzes, and final paper will provide me with necessary evidence about students’ progress as well as gaps that need to be fulfilled. Besides, the practical information will contribute to the existing findings and will help me explore the essence of perception theories, as presented above.
A careful consideration all working papers will also enable to track the quality of handwriting and made up statistics of the most frequently occurred grammatical, stylistic, and lexical mistakes.
Interviewing generates more accuracy in improving and advancing the teaching techniques. In this regard, I will resort to interviewing the teachers with the help of the questions.
In the course of the interview, I was surprised to find interesting concepts, ideas, and insights that I can further use to motivate students t learn more, to define their interests as well as problems that should be overcome.
I also found that Mr. Wang was more inclined to use a combination of visual and oral representation to strike the balance between training visual and oral perception of students. As far as I understood,
Students will also be interviewed for achieving objectivity of the research findings. The questions will also be aimed at defining the problems as well future perspectives for development. While posing questions to students, I have outlined several important assumptions.
First of all, students are more likely to memorize information when singing songs and humming particular rhythmic patterns because it is an excellent way to practice and improve pronunciation.
Second, the majority of students were exciting while using Smart Board to obtain information about the origins of works as well as semantic trees attributed to a particular morpheme.
Finally, students also testified that applying to visual and oral representation considerably simplifies the process of learning the material because it initiated them more deeply into the cultural aspects of Mandarin Chinese.
Challenges and Resources
Evidently, research findings based on the examination of students’ progress in one particular class cannot be objective and accurate enough because they refer to one class only and cannot be applied to other learning courses.
Therefore, I would like to find another class on learning the Mandarin Chinese language to outline similar perspective, compare different teaching methods, exam the main strengths and weakness of the selected class.
Nevertheless, the information I have gathered still greatly contributes to better understanding learning techniques that can be implemented and considered to developing more advanced approaches and building new teaching concepts.
As a future perspective, I will try to contact other school districts to find out available classes on Mandarin Chinese for me to research and define other perspectives for learning, teaching, and evaluating.
In whole, the potential resources for the project involve my classroom teachers, professors, students, parents, and school administrates who encourage me to investigate possible problems and strengths of the techniques used by Ms. Wang.
Despite the narrowness of the research, I have still to introduce innovative approaches to learning and I believe they are worth integrating them in other classes for studying languages.
In conclusion, I should admit that Ms. Wang’s unconventional approaches seems to be much more effective than ordinary drill and practice techniques because they are incredibly motivating and incentive providing. Indeed, students and me inclusively were deeply involved in listening to popular songs and humming known motives.
Such a technique contributes greatly to developing strong visual and aural memory with the help of integrated technologies and interactive computer games.
Beside language and literacy skills, the teacher has also managed to establish favorable communicational environment in the classroom and has encouraged students to effective socialize for sharing knowledge and experience.
The conducted interviews and gathered students’ papers also reinforced by belief about the effectiveness of the introduced approaches and, therefore, I am planning to further apply to those while teaching my students and while learning languages myself.
While examining these techniques with particular reference to the theories of visual representations, I was a bit disappointed because I had not met those approaches before addressing this classroom case study.
Besides, most of students engaged into this learning process have considerably facilitated their literate competency without challenging scaffolding because all lessons were more associated with games and adventures.
This exciting tripe fascinated me as well because I have found out much empirical data for correlating them with existing conceptual frameworks.
Altieri, J. L. (2010). Literacy Math: Creative Connections in the Elementary Classroom. US: International Reading Association
Anglin, G. J., Vaez, H., and Cunningham, K. L. (2004). Visual Representations and Learning: The Role of Static and Animated Graphics. Visualization and Learning. 33, pp. 865-917.
Bustle, L. S. (2004). The Role of Visual Representation in the Assessment of Learning. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. pp. 416-423.
Tovani, C. (2004). Do I Really Have to Teach Reading?: Content Comprehension, grades, 6-12. US: Stenhouse Publishing.
Zaraysky, S. (2009). Language is Music: 64 Fun and Easy Tips to Learn Foreign Languages Fast. US: Create Your World Books.