Homeschool Chinese: Putting Skills into Practice

As the kids are getting older, they are becoming more independent learners.  This is great in many ways, but it also requires that I be more innovative in finding creative assignments for them to practice their minority language skills.  Therefore, I am constantly looking for fresh, new ways to get them to converse with one another.  These past few months, I've been playing around with the new Discovering Chinese Pro app and I am looking forward to incorporating it into our regular curriculum. Each volume in Discovering Chinese Pro contains twelve lessons. The material is presented in several formats allowing students with different learning styles to choose the method that is best (with or without pinyin, with or without audio, and with or without English translations).  The student even has the choice to use simplified or traditional characters and can apply this option to specific words or the entire lesson. Tabs across the top divide the lesson into sections that allow the learner to easily jump to the desired section:  Language NotesCulture PointsPracticeHomework, and I Can.  The practice section is split into six parts – pinyin, characters, listening, reading, speaking, and writing.   I am particularly impressed with the practice sections that focus on the students’ listening, speaking, reading (split into reading comprehension and reading challenge), and writing skills (split into grammar exercises and composition). The activities and practice applications vary with each lesson – ensuring the students are engaged and have ample opportunity to practice their budding skills in varied contexts. One of the things I liked best are the partner and group activities.  In the speaking section of Lesson 24 “Trip to China”, students were asked to interview a friend about his/her recent trip.   Another task in the lesson asked students to pick a destination from a list of overseas trips and to create an itinerary to potential customers. As a group assignment, tasks were to be divided between students (transportation, food, activities, etc.).  In both scenarios, the students were to present it to the class. In addition to using Discovering Chinese Pro as a tool to help me plan learning activities, I also encourage the kids to have conversations with one another.  This is turning out to be more difficult than I had anticipated because they are at different levels.  It can be problematic on occasion because they enjoy correcting one another's pronunciation and arguments have ensued.


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