Of the four-stage learning process:
Each stage has its own objectives, determines the type of instruction, and requires different kinds of participation from students.
Students have no prior knowledge of the Chinese language.
Students get familiar with the sound of Chinese, learn basic sentence structures, and carry on basic conversations of daily topics.
Students' own language is the main language of instruction. For some often used classroom phrases like, "I have a question", students are encouraged to use Chinese. Students learn Chinese listening and speaking through Pinyin, and they are not required to learn Chinese characters.
Students have no difficulty understanding the texts. The vocabulary is small and sentence structures are straightforward. Students participate in many interesting class activities and finish carefully designed exercises, during which students stay alert and focused. Students' personal input is limited.
Students have learned some Chinese. But they have no knowledge of the Chinese writing system.
Students acquire 320 basic Chinese characters and develop sophisticated skills in reading and writing Chinese texts. At the same time, they learn to be expressive on various topics. Sentence structures continue to be basic.
This stage sees a gradual increase of Chinese as the main language of instruction. Students continue to advance their verbal expressiveness through Pinyin, while slowly developing their Chinese reading and writing ability, which re-enforces and strengthens their listening and speaking.
Students have gained essential skills in reading and writing Chinese text, and are able to carry on conversations of various social topics.
Students learn 2000-2500 characters rapidly, acquire more complex sentence structures, and develop their abilities in presenting and writing in Chinese on many contemporary topics.
Chinese is the main language of instruction. Pinyin is no longer included in the textbooks.
Classes are organized around sharing ideas, presenting information and writing short essays. Students' personal input is actively sought after. Peer support and correction are explicitly encouraged both inside and outside of classrooms.
Students have developed good Chinese language skills, and have also acquired some understanding on Chinese cultural practices and traditional values.
Students read long analytical articles and a selection of classical texts, and get an acute sense of Chinese cultural literacy in various aspects, such as history, literature, philosophy, and so on.
Chinese is the main language of instruction. Students also give mini-lectures of various kinds.
Students' active participation is essential. There is a deliberate "lack" of information in the textbooks, which students must fill in. Students search for information and present their findings, thoughts and theories. Group discussions are throughout the classes. Peer support is indispensable both inside and outside of classrooms.
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