I've just returned from a conference in Shanghai where the teachers of Chinese shared their teaching methods and were also given directions for further work....

My overall conclusion is: the methodology being promoted for learning Chinese is still heavily based on drilling and playing (drilling) games. The materials offered are not supposed to develop thinking in students.

They are aimed at making students learn a set of certain phrases, a quite limited set, I would say. I don't want to argue, this is probably good, at least, the students have the chance to learn all the material being taught to them.

So I realized how unique TA is. And I still believe that it is more important to teach the students how to approach the language rather then make them drill words and structures. Because the majority of my students will not go to China immediately after graduation from school and they'll forget the words they've learnt at lessons. But I hope they won't forget the principles of dealing with something new.

And I felt so happy while other teachers complained about the lack of motivation in their classrooms. With my students, there's no such problem!

The only problem appeared on Fri during the speaking test - the students need to increase the automaticity in speaking. So, my target now is to train them speaking. And probably this is where a kind of drilling is necessary, but I want to make it more intellectual, so to say :)


# Alexander Sokol 2010-12-03 12:28
Marija, thanks for the compliments about the TA. Good news here is that there's plenty of room for you to develop TA for Chinese. And I bet it will be demanded, at least by a group of teachers.

Re speaking. Why not have a thinking ('intellectual') task in terms of content where students' output is in speaking? Thus, you will kill two birds at the same time: 'drilling' speaking and thinking while doing a task.

Just to give you an example. The Yes-No game you know well. One can start playing it from the very first steps of learning a language. For example, guessing a number. Or sth else - depends on what you like doing in the first lessons. What I am trying to say that one doesn't need much knowledge to do this thinking task. And at the same time it's a speaking task. What do you think?
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