How Open-ended Materials Help Build Connections To Mandarin Literacy

 

开放性材料如何才能和华文学习相联系呢?

by Zhu Yueju, Vice Principal of EtonHouse Changshu

As I reflect upon my previous Mandarin teaching experiences, a question forms in my mind. How can we help foreign children develop further interest in learning Mandarin? This is an important consideration for many children within our EtonHouse bilingual language environments.

1.

Building Interest – Mandarin is a second language for many children. Hence, building interest is the most important element in the learning process. Teachers should choose materials to enhance curiosity and encourage interactions within the language environment. The items could be open-ended, natural or connected to everyday life to build familiarity. Materials provide the possibility for children to question, investigate and be creative. The ‘creative process’ provides an opportunity for children to try their ideas and helps them to challenge themselves in all aspects of learning. Learning a language cannot be separated from other areas of development such as critical thinking skills, social skills and physical skills. They go hand in hand! Exploration whilst being immersed in a language is an authentic approach that we strive towards.

Understanding Chinese Culture – Chinese costumes, food, calligraphy, poems etc give children experiences in visual/ performing arts as they connect to Chinese culture alongside learning a new language.

Mandarin Inquiry – My experiences allowed me to evaluate how best to introduce Chinese characters to children in a way that encourages exploration and building meaning with each word. I encouraged them to use their bodies to create different characters. They liked using movement in this social experience whilst building Mandarin proficiency at the same time. I could visibly see a higher level of enthusiasm and participation. Afterwards, they extended their exploration to different open-ended materials around the classroom and the whole school to represent their chosen characters. This led to confidence with character formation and orientation! Soon the children were making more formal representations on paper. Their interest translated into home life as well, Eden (6yrs, EtonHouse Claymore) shared with me, “Teacher, look, I created some new Chinese characters with some flowers and sticks from my home, which means moon flower.”

This experience led me to question how can we include more informal materials to help children build deeper connections with Mandarin? Open-ended materials provide more possibilities for the children to engage, they also encourage shared learning, which makes Mandarin inquiry fun!

当我回顾之前的华文教育工作经历时,一个这样的问题跳进了我的脑海:我们如何才能让更多的外国孩子喜欢上华文?让伊顿双语环境的特色有更多的孩子们受益。

建立兴趣——作为第二语言的探索和学习,兴趣对于孩子们来说尤为重要。当老师们选择源自于生活中的真实、自然的材料,孩子们会有一种熟悉感。而我们就是要借助孩子们熟悉的材料与他们一起尝试和变化不同的操作可能性。孩子们在运用材料的过程中,不仅仅可以体验到不断创新的喜悦,还可以感受到挑战自我的成就感。

了解文化——中国的传统服饰、食物、书法、诗歌等内容,不仅能让孩子们有一种视觉上的刺激而且也会让孩子们有极大的好奇心想要了解和探索更多的中国文化。以前的一个学生曾经这样对我说过:“老师,我很喜欢中国的旗袍。”

探索学习——当我以前的孩子们开始尝试探索学习汉字的时候,我一直在思考要用一种什么样的方式才能让他们能够愿意学习并能牢牢记住又了解每个汉字的含义呢?于是,我鼓励孩子们大胆地尝试用身体摆出各种汉字的形状,他们非常喜欢这样的方式,并能在自己完成不了的时候主动寻求我或同伴的帮助。那一刻,我充分感受到了孩子们对这个方法的喜爱。于是,孩子们将用身体造字的方法延续到了用教室内所有能用的材料来造字。随着孩子们不断的创造性体验,他们开始尝试绘制出汉字了,并学会了先用照片记录同伴或是自己的“造字”过程,之后再绘制出来。Eden:“老师,你看,我用家里的树枝和花又创造了一些汉字,它们的意思是月亮的花。”

怎么样才能选择孩子们感兴趣的材料并结合华文学习,让孩子们真正地想要自己去探索和了解呢?这是我们应该思考的问题。开放性的材料,不仅给予孩子们更多创造和尝试的可能,同时也能影响到其他同伴对于华文探索的兴趣。更好地抓住孩子们的兴趣,可以将华文探索学习变得更加生动有趣。


This page was last edited on March 30, 2016