Over the past few years, learning Chinese has become more and more popular around the world; as a result, the industry of teaching Chinese as a second language started thriving in Taiwan and China. Every year, there are many foreigners coming to Taiwan and China to learn Chinese, which is not only because they are attracted by the profound Chinese culture but also because they hope they can use Chinese on business. No matter what reasons they are, the industry of teaching Chinese as a second language becomes a means of distinguishing Taiwan from China because Taiwan is the only country using traditional Chinese character. Therefore, if foreigners would like to experience the art of traditional Chinese character, Taiwan would be a good place for them.
As the English majors who also took the courses of teaching Chinese as a second language, Angela and I have one year experience of teaching Chinese in NPTU. Our students all come from Thailand, and they are the same age as us. What’s more, they are very cute, polite and friendly; as a result, we feel relaxed and pleased to be with them, and we enjoy teaching them Chinese.
In the Chinese class, we taught them many greeting words of Chinese first, such as “你好 (Hello. ),” “請問 (Excuse me. ),” “謝謝 (Thank you. ),” and “沒關係 (It’s okay. ),” because they are very polite. I thought it would be helpful for them to get closer to Taiwanese quickly.
Additionally, in order to help them put what they have learned into practice, Angela and I designed a series of easy, funny, and authentic Chinese courses. Take numbers for example. Besides asking them to repeat after us, we even asked them to clap their hands with rhythm, which was borrowed from a course named Children’s English by Jackie Chang. By doing this, they can remember numbers unconsciously.
In addition, we sometimes use direct method to teach them, in which the teacher creates the scene based on what topic they are in, and the students are asked to practice a dialogue between them. For example, we imagined that we were in a breakfast shop, one person was guest, and the other one was clerk. They practiced a lot about how to order meals in breakfast shop and how to ask the price.
Although teaching Chinese is very funny and interesting, we are faced with many difficulties while teaching, such as language barrier. We can’t speak Thai language, and they can’t speak Chinese, either. Consequently, we can only communicate with one another in English. However, sometimes our inaccurate English expressions lead to some misunderstanding; therefore, we need to improve our teaching skills and English to solve this problem. Also, correcting their Chinese pronunciation is very important because the different but similar pronunciation could refer to a different word and meaning. For example, if someone say “吃糞 (chī fèn, which means eat shit)” instead of “吃飯 (chī fàn, which means eat rice),” it would be very awkward. Accordingly, as Chinese teachers, we are responsible for correcting them and helping them speak Chinese accurately, which is a challenging task.
I have heard of a saying “language contains history and culture,” which impressed me a lot. When we learn a new language, we should not only learn the vocabulary, sentence, and grammar, but also care about the history and culture behind the language. In this way, we learn languages successfully. Therefore, if we have the chance to teach foreigners Chinese next semester, we will introduce them to some holidays that came from China and some well-known Taiwanese delicious cuisines. I hope that they will know Taiwan much better and even fall in love with Taiwan because of our teaching.