It’s okay to admit that after a while, your classroom can get a bit dry.
The day-in, day-out almost boring routine of learning a language may seem inevitable. Doesn’t there need to be consistency and stability involved in a Chinese classroom to get students fluent?
While a consistent lesson plan is always key in teaching students a new language, you don’t have to be that one class that everybody wants to nap in. You can seriously spice up class time with attention-grabbing, innovative methods of using resources in your lessons. Your teaching strategies will only get better.
We found nine incredible resources that you can implement into your lesson plan quickly and without having to change much, but they can seriously improve the way your students learn Chinese.
First, let’s look into how exactly these awesome resources can turn things around for your students.
What Resources Can Help My Students Learn Chinese?
Times, they are a’changing. We’re using technology in classrooms more than ever before. Why not have your students use technology outside of the classroom to improve their fluency?
Many of these resources are in app form so students can study Mandarin on the go outside of class. Some even involve forums and communicating with other learners. If you’re hosting an online class or tutoring only a handful of students, they can interact and learn along with other learners. It’s tough learning a language all by oneself or only with one tutor. To really improve fluency, your students will have to practice conversational Chinese with other learners.
Even better, our list includes the best of the best when it comes to online dictionaries, grammar checkers and other tools that Chinese learners need to have on hand while taking a Chinese class.
You can enhance the teaching experience even more by bringing FluentU into your classroom.
Designed to give an authentic language-learning experience, FluentU lets you engage students using real-world Chinese material like movies, TV shows, commercials, documentaries and other authentic materials Chinese speakers interact with in their day-to-day lives. Combined with the teaching resources mentioned in this article, FluentU will enable you to give your students a fully-immersive learning experience that lets them organically learn Mandarin and Chinese culture.
Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s look at the resources!
Teach the Perfect Lesson with These 8 Chinese Teaching Resources
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Chinese is known for not being the easiest language to run through a grammar checker. However, LanguageTool has a fairly accurate grammar checker for Mandarin characters. This would be a great tool to provide your students so they can double-check sentences they’ve typed to see where their grammar could use some work.
One way this can be implemented is to assign each student to type a self-introduction in Chinese and then run it through the checker as homework. Have them correct their mistakes and practice until no errors are found.
eChineseLearning is a resource site popular with Chinese learners who are learning the language on their own, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use these awesome resources to help students! eChineseLearning is, at its core, an online tutor site, but their resource page is something pretty substantial. eChineseLearning offers:
- Resources for studying Chinese abroad
- Character and word sheets
- Chinese conversation lessons
- Grammar pattern lessons
- Chinese culture guide
And there’s even more than that! To implement this resource, use some of the information you’ve found to create a PowerPoint presentation to explain the benefits of learning Chinese. Maybe you could also include a link to “Insider’s Guide to Chinese Study Hacks” on the syllabus to give your students an extra leg up.
We should all be learning about how we can implement technology into our classrooms. Sometimes sticking to the old way of doing things is smart, but there’s nothing wrong with a little innovation. Podcasts are a great place to start.
We suggest playing one of the podcasts listed on the Chinese Boost website, and making a note of complex words and phrases being used. Write up a list of these words, have your students listen to the podcast and have them note when and where the words occur as homework. This is a great way to help students improve their listening skills.
My favorite podcast to teach with is “BearTalk.” Its engaging stories and funny dialogues make “BearTalk” perfect for any conversational Mandarin lesson.
Flashcards will always be useful for learning a new language. With Anki, your students can use flashcards in an innovative and easy way. The apps and desktop versions are totally free, too.
Build a deck or two with words and phrases you plan on teaching your students. Have them each download the app to their laptop or smartphone and send them the deck you’ve created. Have them practice with the flashcards as homework.
These free resources from PandaTree are great for teachers and students alike. This site has word games, video libraries, story-time pages, reading lists, teaching materials and more.
To implement these into class, perhaps you could try purchasing some books from their reading list to read to your classroom. The teacher-specific materials also boast a ton of awesome activity ideas you could try as well.
Outside of class, your students may run into hiccups with different aspects of Mandarin, from grammar to sentence structure to writing and more. And unfortunately, we all know that students are pretty bad at asking for help or visiting during office hours for tutoring.
One solution would be to include a link to the Chinese Language subreddit. This is a great place where your students can ask questions and get answers from pro learners quickly. This subreddit’s sidebar is also loaded with additional resources and learning tips. And best of all, making an account on Reddit is free!
The British Council has a surprisingly hefty resource page that is perfect for finding ways to teach students Mandarin and Chinese culture. This resource page includes:
- Assembly plans
- Chinese culture lesson layouts
- Activities lists
- Resource sheets
- External resources including museum and language-teaching websites
This is the perfect website for Chinese teachers! Try looking through the Chinese New Year assembly plan and use it to host a unique and educational assembly on the very important Chinese holiday. You can even put your own spin on it as well.
Every Chinese classroom needs a Chinese-English dictionary without fail. Instead of requiring your student to purchase a heavy (and expensive!) hardcover Chinese dictionary, have them install this awesome dictionary app from Pleco onto their laptop or smartphone.
Pleco is a frontrunner for one of the best online dictionaries out there.
Not only is Pleco super fast and accurate, but it also has some bells and whistles too. This app has an OCR function for looking up “live” Chinese characters with one’s camera as well as screen reader widget for Android devices. We suggest having your students download and install this dictionary to use when completing work in-class or at home.
Teaching Chinese should involve just a few simple things—your ability to teach, your knowledge of the Chinese language and your students’ willingness to learn. Worrying about resources and ideas for administering lessons are just part of the territory. Hopefully, some of these killer resources will make things a bit easier for you!
Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist. They write about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach Chinese with real-world videos.