Using Chinese to Communicate with students from other International Schools
In the past two weeks, Chinese Language Acquisition Students in grade 7 and 8 have been cooperating in a project with the other international schools in Thailand and the United States. This collaboration is an inquiry about the use of social media to learn foreign languages in MYP. The purpose of the project is to improve students’ Chinese listening and speaking skills by recording videos on the Flipgrid platform and also by interacting with other students through video feedback. While the main objective is to practice the language, this engagement also allows students to use social media to make friends who are also students in a safer cyber environment.
Students are no strangers to the identification and application of Social Media in real life. Many of them are active users of social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Wechat etc. Their opinion is quite clear about the purpose of the Social Media- they know is a medium of communication that is relevant to their lives. Moreover, students generally like to have their own fans and friends who share common interests.
However, to make friends on social networks in Chinese is still a novelty for students. For this reason, we, the Chinese teachers leading the activity in Thailand, USA, and QAIS, asked students to prepare a 90-second self-introduction, including basic information such as name, age, birthday, nationality, family, school, hobbies, plans in the weekends, and then record their own small video on the Fripgrid platform. After uploading the video, other students from Thai and American international schools will be able to view the video and comment. QAIS students would do the same.
Students are very interested in the other two schools’ MYP students who are also primary Chinese learners. Some of the questions they have wondered are: What do they look like? How about their speaking in Chinese? This has made a smooth start to this matter.
As part of the preparation for this engagement, our students began writing sentences about what they wanted to say. In the process of writing and organizing language, students actively asked for words or sentences that they wanted to understand. For example, they asked, “how to express the concept of “will”?”, “how to say in Chinese “I want to make friends with you” and so on. When writing down their ideas on paper, students encountered Chinese characters that they didn’t know how to write. Therefore, as our routine in class, we reviewed the “Chinese characters stroke” an APP on the cell-phone. By doing this, after the first draft is completed, we further studied the coherence of the text, such as which sentence fits in front, what sentence ends and so on.
Before they recorded their videos, students practiced in order to ensure that their recordings were naturally expressed in Chinese, without reading or peeking on their draft, as this is also the significance of this project. Before the video recording, I was happy to see how students trying again and again, trying to pronounce everything clearly, and trying to speak as fluently in Chinese as possible.
I enjoyed seeing how perfectionist students could be. Cheka, for example, sometimes re-recorded some phrases that she was not happy with, or sometimes she did not like how it sounded. I feel very gratified that, even though re-recorded over and over again, the students did not show signs of frustration. Instead, they patiently tried again and again and having fun by doing it. At the end, as they showed in the Fripgrid, was their smooth, expressive self-introduction.