The learning path of the Chinese Reading and Writing series

The Chinese Reading and Writing series is designed for non-Chinese speakers to learn how to read and write Chinese.

There are six books in the series, teaching a total of 320 Chinese characters, which is roughly 10% of 3000 - 3500 Chinese characters often seen in today’s newspapers and books. The selection of these characters is based on their occurring frequency and also on their places in Mandarin Express series.

All lessons in the textbooks follow a simple and powerful format, which will help students develop sound abilities to read and write interesting stories and conversations.

This format includes four steps: Awareness, Expansion, Practice, and Consolidation, as illustrated in the following diagram:

path of learning Chinese

How does it work?

Each step has a clear objective, which is helpful for students to understand where they are, where they are going and what they need to do to achieve the success.

  • Awareness: present single Chinese characters. This is where students first meet new characters.
  • Expansion: provide many words and fixed expressions based on the characters. This is where students expand their knowledge from single characters to words and combinations.
  • Practice: work through texts comprising sentences, conversations and narratives, with grammar sections brought in when required to address specific structures. This is where students read and write meaningful Chinese texts and develop reading and writing skills.
  • Consolidation: review the characters, words, sentences, and paragraphs. This is where students consolidate learnings, increase their knowledge retention, and further practice reading and writing Chinese. 

To demonstrate how this format works, below we use Lesson 11 from Chinese Reading and Writing 3 to give a detailed explanation.

Awareness - present single Chinese characters

At the start of this lesson, they are presented with ten new characters: , , , , , , , , , .

learn Chinese characters

Students learn how to pronounce these characters, how to write them, and basic meanings. 

When practice writing these characters to get familiar with them, students can follow the stroke order chart at the end of the book, as shown below.

Chinese character stroke order

Expansion - provide many words and fixed expressions based on the characters

This is where individual Chinese characters become words and combinations, the fundamental building blocks of Chinese texts. It is almost always that a tiny increase of new characters can lead to a huge increase of new words and combinations.

learn Chinese words

Students learn the meaning of these new words and expressions, and practice reading and writing these words.

Practice - work through texts comprising sentences, conversations and narratives, with grammar sections brought in when required to address specific structures

This lesson presents two important grammar points, teaching how to describe locations. 

In Chinese, the structures of describing locations are different from English. Therefore, it is important to separate this point out and bring students attention to a more targeted practice.

learn Chinese grammar

After the grammar section, students begin to practice reading Chinese texts.

In Exercise 1, students practice reading sentences.

learn to read Chinese

In Exercise 2, students practice reading conversations.

learn to read Chinese

In Exercise 3, students practice reading stories.

learn to read Chinese stories

All these exercises are important for students to understand how the words are used in the context, to practice deconstructing the texts into words, and to practice comprehending meanings.

Students also listen to the audio recordings and practice reading the texts aloud. It’s important for them to feel the rhythms of the Chinese language.

Consolidation - review the characters, words, sentences, and paragraphs

At the end of the book it is a review chapter. This is where the consolidation process takes place. 

Students go through one more time of all the characters they’ve learned in the book, and do extensive reading and writing exercises.

The learning path of the Chinese Reading and Writing series

Awareness, Expansion, Practice, and Consolidation, this format shows that learning Chinese characters is just the first step in learning Chinese. It is more important to learn words and to practice reading stories than to accumulate individual characters.

Following the Chinese Reading and Writing series, students can rapidly develop their Chinese reading and writing skills, and achieve great learning outcome with 320 characters.


CONTACT

April Zhang
Chinese Teacher
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