Celebrations of Learning – Language Is No Bar to Having Fun
Throughout November, our Chinese language learners have been immersed in Putonghua. To display their prowess, secondary CAL (Chinese as an Additional Language) students participated in our “Learning Celebrations” event while their primary counterparts enjoyed a figurine-making workshop.
Putting Communication to Use in Everyday Life
A common practice at our school is to encourage Chinese language students (especially those for whom this is a second language) to make real life connections to their subject in class or at home, notes Ms Vivian Huang, Chinese Language Teacher & Primary & Secondary CAL Leader. Through daily interactions, learning becomes more meaningful for students. This is the all-round approach taken by the YCIS Chinese language programme.
Charlie Leaung (Y10) believes that the event gave students “an opportunity to speak with a broader group” thus enabling them to “exercise their Chinese skills outside the classroom.” This is an important aspect of our curriculum that promotes all round growth in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Using Family Moments to Teach New Skills
Celebrations of Learning took place in the school auditorium and included students from different levels (CAL level 1-4) to foster collaboration between students with varying skill levels. The event also covered themes from two academic units during the semester. Some of the topics covered were school (L1), sports (L2), friends (L3), and reading (L4). With some vivid role-play and dramatic presentations, students displayed their language talents as well as technical skills such as script writing and video production.
“I enjoyed the fact that we all got to make our scripts on PowerPoint,” said Luli Podesta (Y10), the MC for the secondary event. For Jimin Sohn (Y8) there was much value in the actual language usage experience. “I was able to develop new Chinese grammar and vocabulary,” she said.
“The teacher just gives guidance,” said Ms Huang, but most of the project is student-led.
During the “Old Family Photo” presentation by CAL Level 2, children in Years 10 and 11 presented images of their family members and recounted memorable moments in front of the audience made up of teachers and students. This, according to Ms Huang was not only a great way for students to learn more about their relatives, but also honed their research and interview skills.
For Karen Iwakiri, the most enjoyable part of her presentation was “learning how to present recipes in Chinese.”
Ms Huang also believes that due to the growing collaboration between students in different levels, the event helped motivate lower level students who could envisage how their language skills might develop in future.
A Rose, A Rabbit, and A Panda
Another aspect of the Chinese language programme at YCIS Beijing is culture, be it food, art, or history. In Year 3, students have been learning about tradition. Primary Chinese teacher Ms Franny Guo brought in Mr Feng, an expert in making figurines – a folk art popular during the Han Dynasty. During the session students were captivated by his artistry and complete mastery of his craft as he rolled and moulded the dough into a rose, a rabbit and a panda.
“Mr Feng's teaching is interesting and interactive,” said Ms Guo. After the workshop, students rolled up their sleeves and got to recreate a rose sculpted from dough. It was clearly an enjoyable task. “Mr Feng taught us exactly how to do it step by step,” says Raina Park. By the end of the workshop, she felt she had mastered the art of creating roses.
Ms Guo believes this activity was beneficial in sharpening their senses as it demanded students be “creative, careful, and patient.”
“It takes patience to make a dough figurine and also it’s important to [inject] your own creativity,” said a delighted Ryan Li.
While all the students learned to use new materials and create objects, there were favourite moments. For Harvey Lee this was when he made his “own flower”. For Alex Zhou the highlight was slightly different. “Master Feng’s rabbit because it was very pretty and not that hard to make!” he exclaimed.
At the core of all these activities was the further advancement of Chinese language skills and cultural understanding. This is fundamental to our bilingual approach. It was also a great way for staff and parents to enjoy and gauge the achievements and development of the youngsters.