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Learning Chinese in Real Contexts like Cooking and Shopping

We all know that the purpose of learning a certain language is to put it into use. Therefore, it may be not effective if we just teach some characters and words to foreigners who study Chinese. As we aim at usingChinese language into daily life, we can set a real context by the form of playing games to help students train their spoken Chinese.

Cooking is a good theme for language learning in class. Therefore, all students who learn Mandarin can prepare for cooking dinner together. Firstly, all students discuss what to eat. Then one student will be picked up to be in charge of it and assign the work. The students who are responsible for shopping should present a bill of expenses to the person in charge.

At the same time, the person in charge should check the goods carefully to see whether they bought the right things. Meanwhile, teachers in Chinese learning programs will ask the person in charge to ask some questions about whether they are fresh or not, enough or not. The purchasers are supposed to answer all questions.

It is the same to the other assignments. After finishing cooking, they should invite teachers and other guests to enjoy the dinner. In this process, teachers can write some relevant words on the blackboard if necessary. This game is helpful for foreigners who learn Chinese in China to be familiar with the names of materials needed for cooking as well as to describe the operating process.

Another game can be presenting birthday gifts. When students get the birthday party invitation, they will prepare gifts for that student. This atmosphere is helpful to stimulate the foreigners who study in China to express their emotion. When presenting gifts, students should speak out the reason of giving that gift and the producing are and features of the gift. Meanwhile, the one who receive gifts should express his feeling.

Teachers form summer program in China can take the following possible example as a reference. When one student says “玛丽,今天是你的生日,我送你一个礼物,祝你生日快乐!”, she replies “谢谢你,埃利斯”. When she opens it, she says “啊,是一只小猴子们真可爱!”. Then the student should explain “这是我夏天去西双版纳旅游时买的傣族工艺品。你今年19岁,按中国人说法,你属猴,愿你像这只小猴子一样活泼可爱!”. She replies “太谢谢你了,以后我把她带回去给我妈妈看”.

To consolidate the words and grammar knowledge have learned and train the memory, playing game “shopping” is a beneficial way to learn Mandarin Chinese. Student A says on sentence about what he wants to buy. The student B repeats the goods the former one buys and adds what he wants to. The third student moves on. In this process, the nouns and quantifiers can’t be repeated.

The following example is provided for those who learn Chinese. if student A is “玛丽” and student B is “约翰”. After A says “我要去商店,我要买一斤苹果”, B should say “我要去商店,玛丽要买一斤苹果,我要买两块肥皂”. Then the third continues “我要去商店,玛丽要买一斤苹果,约翰要买两块肥皂, 我要买三个本子”. Of course, the topic can be changed accordingly.

Playing cards is also an interesting game to help learners study Mandarin Chinese. Teachers first write one sentence on each card. Those sentences can be similar in meaning like “他在等出租车” and “他想坐出租车”, or have relation in time like “他下了车” and “他走进了学校”, or in space like “左边是教学楼” and “右边是体育场” and so on.

Four students gather as a group to play. The first one shows the card should read the sentence on the card. The next one can either ignore it or take it according to his needs. Everyone has the right to own the showing cards, but they should display and explain the relationship between that card and his card. Foreign learners from volunteer programs in China can train their ability of understanding sentences relations by this game.

The importance of teaching Chinese language in real context is to stimulate their interest to open the mouth to speak. And that’s just what language learning needs. 

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