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Combine Local Culture with Learning to Speak Chinese – Teaching Experience in Argentina

It is not like learning Chinese in China , we should consider about the local culture when learning Chinese in overseas countries.

Argentineans are enthusiastic and active, invigorating and conversable, sometimes gentle, polite and elegant. They like singing and dancing. Their capital is the birth place of “Tango”. Relatives and friends will hug and kiss each other as soon as they meet. Argentineans love eating roast beef, roast suckling pig and adapted to continental cuisine; they like drinking cold cola and Yerba Mate tea. They prefer talking about soccer or beautiful local parks to the controversial politics and religion issues.

I felt that I should learn the local culture when I was teaching Chinese language and Chinese cultures in Argentina . We hope that foreign students can learn our Chinese cultures, not fear to write Chinese characters and even want to learn Chinese in China . To teach Chinese effectively and productively, the secret is to create the attraction of the culture. In order to reach this goal, we should learn the local culture firstly and then combine their culture with learning to speak Chinese.

Argentineans are polite. Then their learning to speak Chinese can start with the most common and frequent expressions, like “谢谢,对不起,借光,女士优先”. Students can use and learn them in their daily life naturally and effectively.

In the class of learning to speak Chinese we tasted Chinese tea and Yerba Mate tea and had a feedback research after the class, besides having comparisons of Chinese tea ceremony of Yerba Mate tea. Students were all enthusiastic and active. They even provided many Chinese cultural subjects they want to learn in the future.

Argentineans like eating beef. Then we discussed Chinese cuisines like beef with green pepper, beef noodles and soup of stewed beef and so on. In this way, we connect daily life with learning to speak Chinese. When students go to Chinese restaurants, they can not only order dishes in Chinese, but also taste these delicious Chinese beef dishes and even learn to speak Chinese with their family at tables.

Argentineans are adapted to relaxing atmosphere. To help their learning to speak Chinese, teachers should create a comfortable learning atmosphere. After students have the sense of trust to teachers, the teaching process can be really started. Otherwise students will feel stressful and their learning efficiency will be decreased.

I had an Argentinean student came to learn Chinese in China in May, 2008. He had been in love with Chinese culture since he was a child. In addition to his intellect, he studied very carefully. But the greatest challenge for me was his characteristics of Argentinean youth. I invited him to take part in the competition of “Chinese Bridge” in May, 2010; he was extremely happy and brought many Chinese songs he liked. I told him that if he wanted to win, he should have special performance. I suggested him to writing a hip-hop Chinese song for his street dancing, as well as showing Chinese Taiji in turn. He jumped and cried, “how can it be possible?” immediately. But later, he won the champion in that competition. He had the advantages, standard pronunciation, exact tones and rich vocabulary, plus the creative performance. Of course he should win. He never found that he had so many advantages. This is the point I want to highlight——teachers should help students to find their advantages and disadvantages and encourage them to improve and strengthen their confidence and willing of learning to speak Chinese.

When teaching Chinese in Argentina, Chinese teachers should have rich Chinese and western cultural knowledge and professional knowledge, fluent bilingualism; the most important thing is to care the whole learning process enthusiastically, forgive their mistakes and encourage their progress, as well as correct their shortages; the teaching approaches should be suitable for different students and aim to the individual learning motivation and purpose.

The most important part for teaching is “teachers”. Most teachers of Argentinean Chinese teachers Association are Chinese university students in Argentina. We encourage them to take part in the training for Chinese teachers and improve their teaching quality and standards to provide them with good career opportunities.

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