Using Chinese to Communicate with students from other International Schools

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.  

最近,七年级、八年级初级汉语水平的学生针对社交网络进行了学习探究。这是协同在泰国和美国国际学校的老师,我们针对三个学校的中学初级汉语学习者,最终通过在Fripgrid网络平台上录制自己的自我介绍小视频、并进一步通过视频回复的形式用汉语交朋友。以此,通过在现实情境中提高学生运用汉语进行交际的能力,同时,该项目可控的交友圈,也为学生提供了一个安全的网络环境。
运用汉语进行网络交际,对于学生来说是件新奇的事儿。在课堂上的准备工作中,我看到学生“搜肠刮肚”地寻找自己已经学过的关于自我的表达:姓名、年龄、生日、家庭、爱好等等。最为挑战的是,把这些生涩的拼凑转换为灵活的交际。我看到,学生们开始试着把自己的“稿子”背下来,继而在背的过程中找到练习,然后是,当面对视频,她们一遍又一遍地不耐其烦的录制,然而这个重复的过程对她们来讲依然有趣。
学生们最终在Fripgrid平台上呈现的表达自然而流畅,她们都收到了来自其他国际学校的学生的回复视频,下一步,我们将继续循着用汉语进行交流的轨迹,继续提高汉语交际的能力、以及用邮件进行沟通的汉语书写能力。

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