The Chinese language is one of the oldest written languages in the world. Chinese character inscriptions have been found in the turtle shells dating back to the Shang dynasty (1766-1123 BC), showing the written language has existed for over 3,000 years. When there is language, there is history and knowledge that is passed down from generation to generation.
Chinese is a difficult language to learn. It has 1) Pinyin 拼音. It is a roman spelling system, similar to English alphabets and phonics. With Pinyin, students can say Chinese; 2) Han zi 汉字. It means Chinese characters. This is the hardest part for students to learn and remember. For 6th-8th grade serious Chinese learners, the class tends to deliver an effective mnemonics to the students, which includes radicals and pictographs. Radicals is a component of a Chinese character. It could be a semantic (meaning) or a phonetic (sound) indicator. Pictographs is a type of Han zi, a pictorial resemblance of a physical object that it refers to (please see the image for example). When learning radicals and pictographs, students can find some overarching logic exists in Chinese characters structure.
Middle school students are asked to grasp THREE elements together, including Pinyin, Han zi, and the English meaning, and exercise four essential skills-speaking, listening, reading, and writing in their routine Chinese class. Also, basic Chinese grammar is taught in comparison with English grammar. For 3rd-5th graders, the teaching is only focused on Chinese speaking and listening (Pinyin), while 5th graders get a touch of frequently used Han zi and learn some daily Chinese conversations in addition of learning Pinyin. For K-2nd graders, the target is to foster students’ interest in Chinese language and introduce them simple sets of vocabulary.
In the Chinese class, the students not only are taught Chinese language, but also they are exposed to Chinese culture. Ms. Wang, the Chinese teacher, strives to promote cross-cultural appreciation and motivate the students to learn and think for themselves.