Chinese is very different from both English and Spanish, which are phonetic languages.  Chinese is a tonal language, so by changing the tone of syllables in Chinese, you can completely change the meaning by changing the tone of a single syllable. For example, “I kissed her” is just a tone change away from “I asked her” in Mandarin (the dialect we teach at the LCA).  To make it even more different, Chinese is written with ideograms.  Again, we’ll give an example.  Here is the Chinese equivalent of “hello,” although the literal translation is “you good”: 你 好.  ”You” and “good” are each written as single syllables, as is usually the case in Chinese.  As you might guess, Chinese class is different from English and Spanish.

Instructor & Levels

Chinese is taught by Nanjing-born teacher Mei Dai, who holds award from the Chinese government for excellence in teaching non-native speakers.  It has 3 sections, purple, red, and gold, for different levels of proficiency. A surprise for Mei Dai, our Chinese teacher, is that the children asked to learn to write the characters much earlier than she had intended to teach them.

Teaching Goals

Students learn the Chinese pronunciation system (pinyin), identify simple Chinese characters, and know basic Chinese character strokes and the order of writing strokes. We use real-life topics, hands-on cultural experiences, and cooperative learning activities to teach basic conversational sentences. All of the language programs and activities are designed to encourage students to develop interests and build the foundation in learning Chinese. The aim of the Chinese class is to enable students to develop communication skills, focus on language as systems, and gain insights into the relationship between language and culture, leading to lifelong personal, educational, and vocational benefits.

Teaching Activities

  • Flash cards, CDs, and memory games to learn and review Chinese characters.
  • Songs, tongue twisters, and reading accented Chinese poetry to develop students’ control of Chinese tone.
  • Practice writing Chinese strokes and simple characters.
  • Scramble, unscramble, and flashcard matching with corresponding posters to identify the characters.
  • Make sentences from flashcards to create their own sentences.
  • Group activity conversation and dialogue of real situations
  • Chinese culture, history and holidays; viewing of story, film, and historical pictures
  • Chinese crafts (Tangram, cutting paper, etc.)

Useful Websites

Useful Books

  • Practical Chinese—The Effective Way of Learning Reading, Writing, and Speaking Chinese by Wendy Lin.
  • First thousand words in Chinese