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Engage Chinese Learners Using IPAs with Real-world Tasks

Chinese learners at the novice level often feel that they are only allowed to work on the very basic tasks of memorizing vocabulary or applying the conjugations. We know they can do much more than that, however, and we need to offer more relevant and meaningful activities in which they can explore their potential with intermediate-level tasks.


One thematic unit that we all teach at the beginning level of Chinese class is “school life.” A normal teaching approach starts with introducing school subjects, extracurricular activities, and is usually followed with a daily schedule project that puts the pieces together. We would like to transform this thematic unit to a global level by incorporating some real-world scenarios (e.g., international student visits and student-led campus tours) into a series of Integrated Performance Assessments (IPAs). Students will come to understand different school schedules and activities in China, and practice how to describe their own schedule to international students from China. Each IPA contains interpretive reading, interpretive listening, interpersonal speaking, and presentational writing/speaking tasks to help students improve their proficiency. Not only are students expected to build their Chinese communicative skills, they will also relate cultural practices to perspectives, make cultural comparisons, and use the language beyond the classroom to interact with the globalized world.


We built these activities through a backward design model, and believe that they can help scaffold from teacher-guided comprehensible input in the classroom to learner-centered communicative tasks in real-world contexts. We hope that you can take these ideas to your classroom to create more authentic and meaningful tasks in your curriculum.


相信每位老师都希望学生在用中文交流的时候可以脱口而出、对答如流。但是我们又如何可以把这个美好的目标具体落实在初级水平的课堂教学中呢?我们觉得首先要明确一个单元的学习目标,也就是说在学习完本单元之后,学生可以运用所学内容做什么?尤其是在真实的语境下,完成什么样的语言沟通任务?根据逆向教学设计理念,我们老师一旦确定了这些沟通任务,制定清晰的学生能做声明,甄选出目标词汇和句型以后,最重要的环节就是如何设计出环环相扣的课堂活动。每位教初级水平的老师都会接触到“学校生活”这一主题,以往的思路是从学校科目、学生活动开始,慢慢带入“学校时间表”,让学生把所学的生词、结构串联起来形成段落。我们在设计这一主题单元的时候,还考虑到了中美文化交流在学生实际生活中的可能性:他们或许有机会去国际学校访学,也可能会带国际学生参观自己的校园、介绍自己的每日计划。因此我们设计了一系列“综合性语言能力评估 (IPA)”任务,根据教学主题层层递进,帮助学生一步一步从可理解性输入到最后可以独立完成真实语境的交际任务。这些任务不仅培养学生的3种语言沟通能力,也有意识地加强学生对跨文化交流的理解。我们希望通过本次讲座为老师们设计教学内容提供灵感,也期待与大家在讲座中共同探讨、激发更多巧思。


By: Bonnie Wang and Na Li

Also read: What languages are spoken in China?


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