What’s the biggest difference between a language classroom 30 years ago and one now?
It’s not the curriculum—although we hope you’re not still teaching Chinese with books from the ’90s!
If you guessed Technology, ding ding ding, you guessed right!
But technology is a double-edged sword that can inhibit or enhance the way you teach.
In fact, many teachers complain that smartphones and other gadgets are distracting in the classroom setting.
Nevertheless, in education, technology has been more helpful than it’s been harmful. When used correctly, technology can make learning and practicing Chinese fun and easier.
Interested in learning more?
Read further to see how you can use technology effectively in your classroom.
5 Tools That Maximize Technology in the Chinese Classroom
Technology has had a transformative effect on how people learn languages. For example, the advent of electronic dictionaries makes learning vocabulary a lot easier, thus making teaching and learning more efficient.
Speaking from my first-hand experiences, with the help of technology, I have been able to make students pay much more attention to my classes than ever before.
Technology is making teaching easier than ever. It has helped make Chinese lessons more interactive and engaging, encouraging students to become more involved in the learning process.
What’s more, technology allows teachers to explore and implement new teaching strategies easier and more effectively. As a result, students benefit from a more balanced learning experience.
Today, we’re going to look at some technology-based tools that will make it easier for students to follow along and enjoy your lessons.
1. The Interactive Board
Effective and convenient, interactive boards like the popular Mimio board are great for enhancing the learning experience.
They work just like traditional whiteboards, but instead of markers and erasers, you use a board connected directly to your computer and write questions and answers using a stylus pen, which doubles as a marker and mouse.
With the help of interactive boards, you can turn any topic into an engaging lesson. For example, if teaching Chinese characters to the class, you can create a matching activity where students use their fingers (or a stylus pen) to match characters to their pinyin equivalent, which is super beneficial for teaching Chinese writing.
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Want to really make your lessons engaging? Bring FluentU to the classroom.
FluentU’s in-depth Chinese curriculum provides students with an extensive range of videos from beginner to advanced level, as well as interactive activities and other learning resources. Instead of getting the same old generic dialogues, students will learn how to understand conversational Chinese and talk like a native speaker.
One big advantage that FluentU has over other teaching tools is that you’re able to find material for students of every skill level, preferred learning style and personal interests. Simply pick a few videos that fit the learning objectives, show them to students during class and watch how they become more engaged.
3. The Chairman’s Bao
The Chairman’s Bao helps you teach classes using Chinese news as your main source of curriculum. As such, it’s an awesome tool for teaching reading and listening to students of all levels.
What’s great about this tool is that the news is divided into six different HSK levels, making it easy to find the appropriate skill level for your class.
Moreover, The Chairman’s Bao has news covering various industries, including:
- Current events
Accompanying every article is an audio recording of the script read by a native speaker, as well as a glossary and list of reading comprehension questions designed to help students improve listening and understanding. These comprehension exercises come in a variety of formats, including:
- Keyword matching
- Question and answer
- True or false
- Missing words
- Sentence order
Two of the best parts of The Chairman’s Bao is its built-in dictionary, complete with HSK level-targeted list of grammatical explanations for each lesson. Both of which can be used to retrieve definition instantly and learn the various nuanced meanings that accompany words and expressions.
The Chairman’s Bao is available for three platforms: iOS, Android and desktop computers. There’s even a “Classroom” feature for teachers designed to make assigning homework and holding assessments easier.
While not exclusively Chinese, Kahoot is a great tool for adding some fun to your lessons.
It’s a game-based learning platform that allows you to create multiple choice questions and quiz your students. The format and number of questions are entirely up to you, and you’re even able to add videos, images and diagrams to the questions to amplify student engagement. I like to use it to quiz topics such as vocabulary, grammar and Chinese culture.
To start the quiz, students need to get on their phone and enter the “room” using the secret code you’re given after creating a quiz. Have the questions ready on a screen, and as soon as the clock starts ticking, tell the students to answer all the questions as quickly as possible.
Every student will get a score at the end of each question. Their total points are based on their speed and whether they answered the question correctly. The score adds up as the game continues, and the student with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
Kahoot is best used at the beginning of a class to get students ready, pumped and focused. It works best when you create questions closely related to your lesson material. But you can also choose to make completely random questions, if you want to try and get a general idea of your students’ Chinese proficiency.
Either way, the game is a fun and competitive way to teach Mandarin.
Available for iOS, Android and desktop users, Skritter is an app designed to help students improve their Chinese writing abilities.
What’s great about Skritter is its simplicity. Students learn characters by writing them with their hands. And as they practice writing out different characters, the app shows them the correct stroke order while giving tips on how to write legibly.
Teaching with Skritter can help simplify writing lessons. If you’re using a tablet or interactive board, simply open Skritter and demonstrate how to write Chinese characters. Then, have students come to the front and practice writing different radicals or words out.
What’s more, you can even use Skritter to assign writing homework. As long as your students have their own Android or iOS devices, of course.
Other great features of Skritter include the smart flashcards, immediate stroke-level feedback and hard characters review. And last but not least, there are more than 9,000 lists to students can study in class or at home, so you’ll never run out of teaching materials.
Using Technology to Enhance the Chinese Classroom
There’s no denying that Chinese is one of the harder languages to learn, especially for people new to tonal languages. Students are expected to put in a great deal of focus in order to master tones, memorize characters and build their vocabulary. But by bringing technology to the classroom in the form of interactive boards and apps, you’ll be able to help make the learning process easier. And as a result, your students will feel much more positive about studying Chinese.
For this reason, I highly encourage all teachers to start incorporating more learning tools into their lessons.
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