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Learn How to Make Exercises When Teaching Mandarin in ChinaLearn How to Make Exercises When Teaching Mandarin in China

Although it also emphasizes on the discrimination of the in-class exercise study for the students who learn Mandarin in China and the outside-class exercise, ZHOU Jian and TANG Ling (2004) have different opinion with ZHENG Rui (2001). They think that the in-class exercise pattern should be convenient to have communication activity between teachers and students who study Chinese in China. The large amount of training project for strengthening knowledge and skills should be completed in the outside-class. The designers of teaching materials have paid attention to the discrimination of the in-class exercise and the outside-class exercise. For example, the New Intermediate Chinese Listening takes “combination of in-class and outside-class” as an important principle and provides texts, recordings and exercises for out-side class using in each unit. (LIU Songhao, 2005)

The arrangement of exercises should follow a certain order. Generally speaking, the order of exercises should follow the order of shallow to deep, easy to difficult. Thus the order of exercise will be different from the order of teaching.

The amount of exercises is not the larger the better. Talking about the amount of exercises, the shortage of exercise will be worried in the early time. (ZHAO Jinming, 1998; HU Mingyang, 1999) The amount of exercises in the newer teaching materials is generally increased. The amount of exercises is three times of the amount of text in the Speed-up Chinese Elementary Course (CHENG Xiangwen, 2001); the number of exercises in each lesson of the Bridge is close to 100 (ZHOU Jian, TANG Ling, 2004). ZHENG Rui (2001) thinks that, the in-class exercises should be controlled in a proper number. We should put quality before quantity. ZHOU Jian and TANG Ling (2004) pointed that if the amount is too large, students will feel overburdened and fear. These are all opinions that deserve to think deeply. We believe that the amount of exercises can’t be too large, for the basic reason is that learners will spend less time and efforts on learning texts when there are too many exercises. The exercise amount and text amount are a pair of contradictions and the two should be kept balance.

The purposes of exercises for the students who learn Mandarin in China

This part is going to discuss three questions: What purposes can be reached by exercising? How to classify the purposes of exercises? How can we judge whether a certain exercise pattern is suitable?

What purposes can be reached by exercising?

As mentioned above, the final purpose of exercise is to cultivate the ability of learners to communicate in target language. When designing exercises, we should detail this purpose. To sum it up roughly, about the purpose of exercises (somebody call it “the function of exercises”), researches mentioned this more than 11 terms. This was beyond our expectation.

Reviewing and enhancing. Reviewing and enhancing is one of the most important functions of exercises. For all the knowledge students have learned, they can be reviewed and enhanced in a certain way. The function of reviewing and enhancing will be realized by repeating. It will be difficult to repeat vocabulary and language points in text. But it will be easier to increase the repeating rate by exercising.

Summing up and induction. ZHENG Rui (2001) considered “induction” as an important principle of compiling exercises. LIU Songhao (1999b) regarded “summing up” as one of the five methods of vocabulary training in reading class. Induction and summing up can make language knowledge more methodical so that they can be remembered and selected easier. The generalization and distribution that LI Shaolin (2001,2003) mentioned can be understood from this aspect too.

Expansion and progress. Both reviewing & enhancing and induction &summing up focus on the current contents of texts; expansion and progress are closely tied up with the learner’s who learn Mandarin in China self-expression. Whether the limited usage (such as completing sentences or dialogues) or the complete free expression, both of them belong to expansion and progress (ZHOU Jian and TANG Ling, 2004). The exercises that let learners grasp the language using condition and environment also belong to expansion and progress.

Diagnosis and checking up. The goal of diagnosis is to find the existent problems in teaching and learning so that we can take relevant measures to solve these problems. And the diagnosis is realized by taking exercises. The so-called “understanding” exercises mostly have the function of diagnosis and checking up.

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