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The Relationships between Knowledge and Skills in Chinese Teaching

In Chinese teaching as a foreign language, it is important to help students to gain language knowledge as well as master the language skills. Therefore, it is wrong to overemphasize the knowledge because it won’t be transformed into skills and absorbed by students. In the same sense, the overemphasis of skills training is inappropriate because there is no core of the communicative ability, the appropriateness. It is not helpful for students who study Chinese to use it in new contexts.

In the real teaching, teachers in Mandarin learning courses should train the skills at the same time of teaching knowledge, more importantly, combine them together. In the cognitive psychology, the knowledge is divided into two types, the declarative knowledge and the procedural knowledge, which indicate the knowledge and the ability respectively.

To see the knowledge acquirement from the cognitive psychology, the acquirement of the procedural knowledge is on the basis of the declarative knowledge. That is to say, only when the foreigners who learn Chinese in China know “what” can they process the operating steps “how”. In brief, the ability is based on the knowledge.

The direct purpose of teaching Chinese as a second language is to train students’ language ability and the communicative language ability. The components of language skills belong to the knowledge field while that of the communicative language skill include language skill and communicative language skill besides the components of the language ability. Learners who study Mandarin Chinese can see that the language skill and communicative language skill are all the combination of the knowledge and skills.

Then, what are the relationships between knowledge and skills in teaching Chinese as a second language? First of all, the knowledge is the basis. Students who learn Mandarin in China are not qualified to do skills training if they cannot master the Chinese language knowledge better such as the pronunciation, grammar, characters and words and so on. It is just like the pilot can’t fly without the knowledge about the aircraft system and flying knowledge. Therefore, the knowledge is the basis and precondition of the skill training.

Secondly, the skill training is the core of the Chinese learning and teaching. In Chinese teaching, teachers should always guide students to practice firmly and step by step. And the skill training should always in the whole teaching process. After the students who study in China understand the contents, they will acquire the knowledge and the skill comes from the training and practicing of the knowledge. The students’ interest can be motivated only in the process of language training. Therefore, it is the kernel of Chinese teaching.

In addition, the purpose of learning Mandarin Chinese is to form the communicative language ability with Chinese. And the knowledge and skill are the preconditions of the communication skill. The general teaching theory thinks that the knowledge refers to the questions of “what” and the skill is about “be able to”. But the “ability” is a higher level than the skill of finishing the relevant language activity.

Even though there is obvious difference between knowledge and skill, people often mention them in the same breath, thus dividing them into knowledge and ability. Both of them are the preconditions for each other and supplement each other. Those who learn Chinese language should realize that the knowledge is the basis of the ability. If there is no proper relevant knowledge, there is no ability of finishing certain activities.

In the teaching process, teachers should solve the problem of “skill” on the basis of the solving the problem of “knowledge”. The “knowledge” is the means and the “ability” is the purpose. The knowledge can be taught and the skills can be trained. Therefore, teachers should combine them together to train students’ communicative ability when they teach Mandarin Chinese. The training of the communicative competence is based on the formation of the knowledge and skill.

Last but not least, in language teaching, the competence training should be processes in the activities. To learn to speak Chinese, students should train more in the realistic life and the actual communication. Therefore, creating the activities and real contexts are the effective approach of developing language skills.

In brief, both the language knowledge and the language skill are important in Chinese teaching as a foreign language. Therefore, teachers should realize the importance and then combine them together in the teaching process to train students’ communicative ability.

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