What Should Chinese Classes For Adults Comprise Of?
Those days when we sat in Chinese classes obediently in school and listening to the Mandarin teacher teach has gone.
These days, the “traditional” teaching method and learning experience are being challenged, in both children and adult learning. You’re more likely to see a children’s language teacher running around and play with them to “teach” the language to the kids without the kids realizing they’re actually learning.
Which is working, this is just like the movie “Inception”- first they get in your head and now you don’t even realize you’re doing things that other people want you to do!
Okay, that might have gone just a little too far. The playing method does make a lot of sense though. Letting kids learn a new language like they learn their mother tongue is brilliant and has been proven effective.
But what about language learning for adults? What about Chinese classes for adults?
I have put my running-around screaming, playing dolls and waving toys days behind me a long, long time ago, and somehow I have a feeling you did, too. Although the love for chocolate isn’t going anywhere, there are definitely a few perks about being an adult that is helpful for Chinese learning. For example, we are able to focus longer, we are able to discipline ourselves (not too much though) to do things that might be less fun than eating chocolate. (If you’re interested to learn about unique ways to learn Mandarin, check this post out!)
What does this mean for Chinese learning?
First of all, this means that your Chinese teacher doesn’t have to spend 30 minutes run around with you and entertain you just to get you speak a few new words. (And language teachers everywhere thank you for this.)
Secondly, this means that you’re able to have a deeper understanding of the language even right from the very first class, especially for Chinese. The Chinese language is a very history rich language and at times, some level of understanding in the history and culture is able to strengthen your Chinese skills.
Furthermore, the ability of being able to focus and discipline also means that adults are more likely to take less time to learn the pinyin system, and that’s more time to explore the world of Chinese sounds.
Does this mean it is all work and no play?
As we put our clay playing days behind us, we also develop other interests. And ANY interest can be incorporate into your lessons and provide more incentive or sparkle more interests in Chinese learning. An experienced and good Chinese teacher will also help you stay engaged through a variety of practices.
Practices don’t sound fun at all.
Not necessary, and this is where the experience and the skills of the teacher comes in to play. We all enjoy the sense of achievement deep down and sometimes even just little things can provide a great deal of sense of achievement, especially in a learning process. The way a question is being asked also play a big part, for example, almost everyone enjoys a fun bar trivia, but the boring internet survey is the least thing anyone wants to do.
By creating a “bar trivia” vibe in practices can keep you engaged and interested in the language learning without having the experience from your college chemistry class haunt you around.
We might not be 3 years old anymore, but we all still enjoy a little fun and challenge in our life.
What does this mean for adult Chinese class design?
This means a healthy dose of the essentials (Pinyin, characters) along with just a little bit of story telling (Cultural and history background, stories for new vocabularies, terms, and phrases can help you memorize those new things you just learned a lot better) and a good amount of practice, bar trivia style.
To boost the “sense of achievement”, it is also great to squeeze in some new and common words and phrases in current cultural reference and allow yourself to get derailed just a little bit, not only this is useful to learn, being able to use those also gives you the feeling of “being closer” to the reality, and not just learning something that don’t seem to have any use in your current daily life or immediate future.
Of course, a lot of the above requires a great and experienced teacher. Any Chinese person, and sometimes even a non-Chinese can tell you how to say a certain word in Chinese, and sure, you can probably pick up something from Chinese tv shows or pop songs every once in a while, but for long term, effective Chinese learning, the help of a great teacher is crucial.
With all the options available in Singapore, it is recommended that you get to know the language teacher/school a little better before you start the lesson, most language school will be happy to answer questions and provide a little background on their teachers to help you make the decision. For a kick start, talk to Chinese Edge (www.chineseedge.com.sg) today to learn about their teachers and teaching approach!