Communicating in Chinese is for the beginning learner. The series now includes three student books and two teacher activity books, and provides the framework for a proficiency-based approach to learning standard Chinese. Focusing on all four skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing), the program consists of a series of graded tasks that approximate the real-life tasks that a student might face. The approach requires students to learn and manipulate vocabulary and structures to achieve specific real-life ends. The content of each lesson provides the student with the necessary resources, and the practice to develop the necessary skills, to use Chinese to achieve these ends.
The Communicating in Chinese curriculum consists of task-based, interactive classroom exercises. The focus is on the learner, and students are encouraged to develop their own strategies to determine and express meaning. The material covers a variety of daily life needs, including becoming acquainted, making appointments, shopping, engaging in leisure activities, obtaining food and drink, and using transportation. All of these activities are presented in context at home, in school, or in common public places. Through exposure to practical reading texts such as street signs, menus, advertisements, schedules, forms, and hand-written notes—in simplified and traditional characters—students gain familiarity with a wide range of Chinese written styles, and learn to convey simple messages by writing Chinese characters as well.
The Communicating in Chinese series has been adopted by many schools and colleges throughout the United States and abroad.
Cynthia Ning is Associate Director of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. She regularly conducts teacher-training sessions for secondary and post-secondary levels on performance-based language testing and training, and gives a wide range of lectures on Chinese culture to both academic and non-academic audiences. She has also served as president of the international Chinese Language Teachers Association.
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