Thematic Approach to Teaching Chinese


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  • My name is Shaz…Shaz Lawrence That’s my email address, if anyone would like to get in touch with me afterwards.
  • Although I am living in the US now, I am from Australia originally and that’s where I began my teaching career…in the general classroom as well as Chinese teaching. Long before teaching and learning Chinese was popular, Australia in the late 80’s decided to make it mandatory for every student from R-12 learn a second language. Chinese was a priority language.
  • I studied at Fu Ren University in Taiwan, and then received 2 scholarships to study Chinese in Beijing and Nanjing. I started off teaching Chinese in a primary school of 800 students and taught every one of them once a week. PreSchool and Highschool…mainly boys.
  • Earlier this year, began a new project – Paper Bag Chinese. Teachers contacted me regarding materials for the adolescent years and highly motivating.
  • Finally, this is my general teaching website –
  • Most of us are familiar with teaching topics… As language teachers, we generally start of with my name, age, family etc., Nothing wrong with that, but there is a better way.
  • A theme acts as an gives topics a CONTEXT The theme groups topics together so learning is meaningful and related to real world situations.
  • WE are going to learn to say your name, ask how old you are, tell me what you like…etc, There is no context and sometimes when I see teachers teach that way…..I want the kids to say… but why? How is this useful? When will I use this?
  • Buying a gift…topics might include money, numbers, descriptions, greetings, Let’s go to the circus – transport, location, animals, food, descriptions,
  • After looking at learning standards, content…comes the context
  • Common topics.. Don’t have to start with ‘What’s your name?
  • Common teaching practice…drill kids, repeat, practice with each other..???
  • Give students a purpose to communicate - personal information
  • Drill, repeat after me…taught in isolation
  • Context needs to be developmentally appropriate
  • Emotions, how we feel about input..can negatively affect learning.. Bored…lack of meaning,……anxiety… All these things function as a filter… and reduce the amount of language students are able to understand/… Actually prevent the processing of the language input.
  • Affective filter is so important How do we get from here…to…
  • Now that sounds quite logical..doesn’t it? But often we give students a list of new vocabulary and there is no intrinsic value or meaning attached to the characters. Make connections – to first language Context – introduce new vocab in a context Meaning – do the new words have meaning to the student? If you are given a list of things to remember, it is easier when sorted into groups…like fruits, vegetables, drinks etc.,
  • Connected..better able to retrieve information over time.
  • Thematic Approach to Teaching Chinese

    1. 1. The Thematic Approach to teaching Chinese [email_address]
    2. 2. Shaz [email_address]
    3. 5. Chinese Teacher - Grades 1-7 Chinese Teacher - Grades 8-12 Pre-school Chinese Teacher
    4. 6. Chinese Monster Magic
    5. 7. Creative Chinese
    6. 8.
    7. 9. What is Thematic Teaching?
    8. 10. Why teach with Themes?
    9. 11. How do I develop my own Theme?
    10. 12. 1. What is Thematic Teaching?
    11. 13. <ul><li>Meaningful learning activities </li></ul><ul><li>Real life contexts - easily related to everyday life </li></ul>Meaningful Learning Theme What is Thematic Teaching?
    12. 14. topics vs themes <ul><li>Themes connect topics </li></ul><ul><li>Themes connect previous knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Themes embed real-world activities </li></ul><ul><li>Themes recycle language </li></ul>What is Thematic Teaching?
    13. 15. THEMATIC TEACHING: It’s All About Real life contexts! A Trip to the Zoo My first visit to the Doctor Let’s go to the Olympics Dinner with my friends Happy Birthday! Meeting a new friend Buying a gift At the Beach On the Farm Let’s go to the Circus Authentic Learning Experiences Dinosaurs It’s winter! What is Thematic Teaching?
    14. 16. Context What is Thematic Teaching?
    15. 17. 来北京飞机厂 我不喜欢去理发 周末计划 去看棒球比赛 你喜欢你的校服 吗 ? What is Thematic Teaching?
    16. 18. Merge topics into a Theme <ul><li>Clothing </li></ul><ul><li>Colors </li></ul><ul><li>Size </li></ul><ul><li>Numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Age </li></ul><ul><li>Family </li></ul><ul><li>Food </li></ul><ul><li>Likes/dislikes </li></ul><ul><li>Occupations </li></ul><ul><li>Weather </li></ul><ul><li>School </li></ul><ul><li>Home </li></ul><ul><li>Transport </li></ul><ul><li>Money </li></ul><ul><li>Time </li></ul>What is Thematic Teaching?
    17. 19. What is Thematic Teaching?
    18. 20. What is Thematic Teaching?
    19. 21. What is Thematic Teaching?
    20. 22. <ul><li>Learning Maps </li></ul>What is Thematic Teaching?
    21. 23. What is Thematic Teaching?
    22. 24. Common questions 你叫什么名字? 你几岁 ? 你是哪国人? 你家有几个人? 你会说中文吗? What is Thematic Teaching?
    23. 25. Context 你叫什么名字? 你几岁 ? 你是哪国人? 你家有几个人? 你会说中文吗? Meet someone new on the plane. Security on arrival in China. A new classmate arrives at your school. Interview of a celebrity / sports person. Answer questions about yourself on Britain’s Got Talent. What is Thematic Teaching?
    24. 26. Adjectives What is Thematic Teaching?
    25. 27. What is Thematic Teaching?
    26. 28. What is Thematic Teaching?
    27. 29. Lesson Planning Context
    28. 30. 2. Why use Themes?
    29. 31. The affective filter Why use Themes?
    30. 32. The search for meaning is innate . The search for meaning comes through patterning . Emotions are critical to patterning. Why use Themes?
    31. 33. Why use Themes?
    32. 34. Cognitive Approach Learning Chinese creates specific demands on the areas of the brain for remembering visual patterns. Connections and Patterning Why use Themes?
    33. 35. Contexts Brain seeks connections, context and meaning! Why use Themes?
    34. 36. Why use Themes?
    35. 37. Students are engaged! Why use Themes?
    36. 38. Language has a purpose Communication Why use Themes?
    37. 39. 3. How can I develop my own Thematic Unit?
    38. 40. Theme : The Olympics 奥林匹克
    39. 41. Brainstorm Where are the Olympics held? How can I get there? What sports are played? What time does it start? How can I buy a ticket ? Who would I go with? Nationalities Countries Sports Likes / Dislikes Ability to play… Transport Directions Passport? Pack a suitcase Numbers Money Locations STOVP Likes / Dislikes Ability to play… Family members Friends How to develop a Theme
    40. 42. How to develop a Theme
    41. 43. Decide how students will demonstrate their learning. How to develop a Theme
    42. 44. How to develop a Theme
    43. 45. Set up Learning Activities in the Classroom <ul><li>Materials needed: </li></ul><ul><li>Passport template </li></ul><ul><li>Vocabulary Cards </li></ul>How to develop a Theme
    44. 46. Make your own Passport with 8 pieces of information about yourself. (Use Vocabulary Cards)
    45. 47. Complete information in Passport
    46. 48. Set up Learning Activities <ul><li>Materials needed: </li></ul><ul><li>Graph paper </li></ul><ul><li>Sport Vocabulary Cards </li></ul>
    47. 49. Set up Learning Activities <ul><li>Materials needed: </li></ul><ul><li>Mascot Images </li></ul><ul><li>Poster paper </li></ul><ul><li>Olympic logo </li></ul>How to develop a Theme
    48. 50. Describe the Olympic Mascots TASK: Describe the color, size, body of each Mascot. In the description include at least 3 actions/sport each Mascot is able to do. How to develop a Theme
    49. 51. Set up Learning Activities <ul><li>Materials needed: </li></ul><ul><li>Olympic venues Map </li></ul><ul><li>Writing paper </li></ul>How to develop a Theme
    50. 52. How to develop a Theme
    51. 53. Set up Learning Activities <ul><li>Materials needed: </li></ul><ul><li>Competition Schedule </li></ul><ul><li>Laptop </li></ul>How to develop a Theme
    52. 54. TASK: Create a Podcast Describing day and time of At least 10 events How to develop a Theme
    53. 55. Set up Learning Activities <ul><li>Materials needed: </li></ul><ul><li>Vocabulary Sheets </li></ul>How to develop a Theme
    54. 56. How to develop a Theme
    55. 57. 美 国 澳 大 利 亚 加 拿 大 中 国 英 国 法 国 印 度 爱 尔 兰 意 大 利 日 本 韩 国 新 西 兰 巴 基 斯 坦 How to develop a Theme
    56. 58. At the Airport <ul><li>Students exchange information about themselves and nationality. </li></ul>你好! 你是哪国人? How to develop a Theme
    57. 59. Culminating Activity <ul><li>Mini-Olympics </li></ul><ul><li>In Chinese </li></ul>How to develop a Theme
    58. 60. A Trip to China Theme
    59. 61. Brainstorm 1. What do I need? 3. What will China be like? 4. What is my new home like? 2. Talking to someone on the plane Weather Transport Things I like /dislike Transport – plane ticket? Time (schedule) Passport? Pack a suitcase? Nationality Numbers/Age Likes/dislikes Family members Sport Rooms Furniture Descriptions Location A Trip to China
    60. 62. A Trip to China
    61. 63. A Trip to China
    62. 64. A Trip to China
    63. 65. A Trip to China
    64. 66. A Trip to China
    65. 67. How to plan a Thematic Unit <ul><li>Brainstorm themes, concepts, topics, big ideas or problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Choose a theme that is: </li></ul><ul><li>* Significant </li></ul><ul><li>* Universal </li></ul><ul><li>* Extendable </li></ul><ul><li>* Applicable </li></ul><ul><li>* Relevant </li></ul><ul><li>* Critical to the content areas being studied </li></ul><ul><li>* Engaging to students </li></ul>How to develop a Theme
    66. 68. Content Standards <ul><li>Identify the content standards and benchmarks which are significantly related to the thematic statement and focus questions </li></ul><ul><li>What do I want my students to learn? </li></ul><ul><li>Reading and responding </li></ul><ul><li>Oral Interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Writing </li></ul>How to develop a Theme
    67. 69. Language Components <ul><li>Grammar </li></ul><ul><li>Sentence Structure </li></ul><ul><li>Questions and Statements </li></ul><ul><li>New Vocabulary </li></ul>Communication with a Purpose! How to develop a Theme
    68. 70. Learning Activities <ul><li>Authentic </li></ul><ul><li>Real Life Contexts </li></ul><ul><li>Integrated Topics </li></ul><ul><li>Engaging </li></ul><ul><li>Promote effective outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>Purpose of Language </li></ul>How to develop a Theme
    69. 71. How to develop a Theme
    70. 72. Culminating Activity <ul><li>Bring all the topics together in one final learning activity </li></ul><ul><li>Real life context - in world </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual activity - in classroom </li></ul>How to develop a Theme
    71. 73. Student Assessment <ul><li>Establish criteria for evaluating your student products and performances. </li></ul><ul><li>What will you accept as evidence that students have achieved the targeted content standards and benchmarks? </li></ul><ul><li>Use the language of the culminating task and the key elements of the content standards and benchmarks to draft concise statements of criteria. </li></ul>How to develop a Theme
    72. 74. How to develop a Theme
    73. 75. How to develop a Theme
    74. 76. The Thematic Approach to teaching Chinese [email_address]