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How to Make Chinese Textbooks Meet Different Teaching Environment and Help Students Learn Chinese Language Efficiently

The environment factors that influence Chinese textbooks are diversified. According to the distribution situation of students who learn Chinese language and the requirements of Chinese textbooks from them, we can discuss about the complex language teaching environment that Chinese textbooks should adapt to.

According to incompletely statistics, people who are learning Chinese language have been reached to 30-40 million and many people are learning Mandarin in China. Among these people, overseas Chinese students occupy the large part, up to more than 70%. The worldwide Chinese fever was started in overseas Chinese society. And overseas Chinese are the fresh troops, vanguards and important promotion strength of the development of the overseas Chinese education.

Most overseas Chinese learn Chinese language in Chinese language schools. The statistics indicate that by the end of 2003, the number of weekend Chinese schools in US has reached to more than 800 and there are about 160,000 students. Overseas Chinese are quite different from native American students who have no Chinese background at all. As for overseas Chinese, English has been the mother tongue for most of them and Chinese is neither mother tongue nor foreign language, but a heritage language. Before learning Chinese language, most of them have already had a little ability of listening and speaking and a certain perceptual knowledge for Chinese characters. Some people call them as heritage students or students with language background, which shows the features of these learners.

So far the language training for overseas Chinese students emphasizes on reading and writing, but listening and speaking are not the important parts. Teachers are dominated in the process of students’ learning Chinese language. The reasons are: special structure of student resources, teaching idea of Chinese traditional teachers, the heritage and acceptance of Chinese cultures and the textbook Chinese was compiled in domestic Ji’nan University. As for this, it is quite necessary to compile the textbooks which are suitable for these overseas Chinese students who are learning Chinese language.

Overseas Chinese students are a special learner group, for they have their own language cultural background, deep Chinese culture origin, being involved in a complex learning environment and deeply influenced by traditional Chinese language teaching idea. For all these reasons, we should compile special Chinese textbooks.

In European and American universities, although there are many textbooks for teachers and students who learn Chinese language to choose, the quality is not that idea and these textbooks can’t meet the special requirements of students in different European and American students. Textbooks for students in these countries should consider the limited class hour and be simplified.

Different language teaching traditions in different places also influence the study habit of students who are learning Chinese language. The styles of textbooks will be differed. For example, although students from Japan and Korea belong to the Chinese character culture circle, Japanese students focus on reading while Korean students focus on speaking. Therefore, textbooks should have different emphasis when they are being compiled.

Most of the Chinese textbooks are translated in English. The English notes of textbooks are not brief and good enough, so many learners can’t understand. In overseas Chinese teaching, the situation of teaching Chinese in the mother tongue of learners is quite common. Teachers and students all hope that the textbooks can be translated in their mother tongue to help them learn Chinese language.

Because Chinese characters are quite fresh for students whose mother languages are alphabetic writings, Chinese character problem in Chinese learning is the key point that controls the study interest and enthusiasm. The attitudes of Chinese learners for Chinese characters can be divided into “love” or “fear”. For students who love Chinese characters, the textbooks can start with the recognization of Chinese characters and have spoken Chinese training at the same time so that their confidence for Chinese can be kept and have the expectation of learning Mandarin in China.

For people who fear Chinese characters, textbooks should highlight the auxiliary function of pinyin for learning Chinese and make full use of pinyin to let learners have speaking foundation and cultivate language sense.

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