Students’ age range: 12-14
Topic: Introduction to Mandarin, Culture and Pronunciation
Description: 1. Think on questions such as – “Where is Mandarin spoken? What does it sound like?”, pair for research, as a whole class, students share what they find.
2. Notes covering these main points are sent to students in advance so they can preview the basics of the language structure. In class, they summarize and discuss the differences in triads with assigned roles (a secretary, investigator and discussion moderator). Moderators present each group’s findings to the class and new groups give feedback to either add or question facts presented.
3. Essential questions are presented in a fish bowl discussion – “How much cultural understanding is required to become competent in using a language? How can I explore and describe cultures without stereotyping them?” Teacher models examples good and bad of speaking about the culture to get students started. Students judge the statements as being stereotypical or non-stereotypical.
4. Pronunciation drills of 4 tones and examples of how changes of tone affect meaning. Students independently work on pinyin strings using an online interactive pinyin chart. Then, in pairs, they test each other step by step – first initials, then finals and then full pinyin strings with tone symbols. Teacher isolates the most difficult points of pronunciation for English-speakers and creates a graphic organizer on the board for students to note.
5. In groups, create and critique a list of criteria for learning the language from a free technology-based resource. They then decide on the best aspects needed and begin research in pairs to look for the best apps, blogs, video playlists etc.