The primary objective of the Chinese as a Second Language (CSL) program is to provide opportunities for students from non-native Chinese environment.
This year, the CSL program offers nine classes ranging from prekindergarten to adult, with each class designed to maximize student exposure to practical everyday Chinese (Mandarin).
Play and Learn Chinese
I am a firm believer in learning through playing. Game-playing allows for a more natural way to pick up a new language without resorting to rote memorization. Through Chinese children play, paper arts, Chinese knotting as well as other fun activities such as paper cutting, small sand bags, Chinese Yo-Yo and shuttlecocks, the students learn not only the Chinese language but also the culture. Moreover, these activities help maintain a high level of student interest throughout the course of study.
Visual aids also play a prominent role in my classes. For example, we'll be making Chinese characters flash cards, which are a good way to review previously-taught words. Along with their attendant DVDs, the textbooks we use provide a lively and colorful way to build up the vocabulary used in daily life.
In addition to reading, we teach writing and traditional Chinese calligraphy as well. Because every Chinese character is composed of different strokes, it is important for the students to learn to write in the correct stroke order. Our goal as a class is to learn 50-70 characters each semester.
At this time, I would like to thank our students and families for their valuable support, without which the CSL program would not exhibit the vibrancy it does today.
Bridging Language and Cultural Gaps
I would like to share with everyone some of my insights from teaching the Chinese as a Second Language Adult Class over the past two years.
The CSL Adult Class is made up of students from all over the world the United States, India, Greece, Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia, etc. To me, this extraordinary diversity amply demonstrates the growing recognition of Chinese as an increasingly useful language. Based on my personal observations, three primary factors contribute to this trend.
1. Due to increasing interactions with China-based companies, knowledge of Chinese is fast becoming an on-the-job skill to help enhance workplace productivity.
2. Some students lived in China before, and would like to maintain or even sharpen the Chinese-language skills acquired there.
3. For families with a Chinese spouse and/or adopted Chinese children, the American spouse/parents would like to learn Chinese to help facilitate communication within the household.
Having witnessed the hard work that my students put into studying Chinese, I find myself constantly impressed by their dedication. As a case in point, it took the class just three lessons to master Pin Yin, the Chinese alphabet system. Armed with that knowledge, my students are now able to pronounce new words by referencing the pinyin and read out entire sentences, essentially achieving a serviceable level of fluency. With this example in mind, I highly encourage those who are interested in learning Chinese but feel daunted by the perceived difficulty to give my class a try. Once you comprehend the pinyin system, conversational facility is really not far behind.
Of course, mastery of the Chinese language goes well beyond spoken communication alone. Realizing this, my students also work hard to improve their written skills. For the adult class, a textbook featuring side-by-side English translation has been selected, which makes it much easier to grasp new words and phrases. As a teacher, I feel inspired by my students¡¯ enthusiasm and progress to work even harder in helping them achieve their goals.
Beyond its expanding role as a lingua franca, the Chinese language opens the door to understanding China's 5,000-plus years of splendid culture and history. Whether for professional or personal reasons, I invite you to join my class in exploring this wonderful linguistic heritage.