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The irritating "make a sentence with this word" technique

suMMit

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Due to my work schedule, I had to take a lesson with a different teacher than my usual one. She was friendly enough, but she did this common teacher thing that I find so irritiating: go through the vocab list before studying the unit and saying to me: "给我一个句子“。 I fail to see the point of me making a completely random sentence, with no context using 往返票 , 决定,etc。 I tried to explain to her that this was a useless activity. In the end I said lets just spend the rest of the lesson chatting. Pretty much a waste of a lesson. For the life of me I cannot see how a teacher thinks making a random sentence, with no prompts or anything to give you ideas, is a useful learning method. 😵



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somethingfunny

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Why do you think it's a useless activity?  Did you find it difficult?  If so, that probably meant it was working.

 

I think there is a place for generating sentences from words, especially in one-to-one teaching.  However, I did find that it was very overused by Chinese teachers.

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It just seems so meaningless, there is no point to make the sentence. Its often not that its "hard" but rather i have no idea, no inspiration to make a sentence. Teacher: make a sentence with "north korea" me: uh, i dont like north korea. That was useful. Make a sentence with "decide". Um, its on tge vocab list, but we havent studied it or its use in any context at all. 

 

So how about is she said "compare north korea and china"? or if we were at the end of unit and she said "tell me three things you need to decide at work". or even "answer in full sentences, have you been to north korea?, where is north korea? whats the weather like in north korea"

 

Basically, there are lots of ways the teacher can get you to use tge vocab, but just saying “make a sentence” is imo lame, boring and not very useful.

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had to take a lesson with a different teacher than my usual one ... went through the vocab list before studying the unit and saying to me: "给我一个句子“。


Question: Aren't you supposed to prepare the unit before you start a class? Isn't the point of having a teacher all about having someone there to correct you? So when she's telling you to "make a sentence with word A" I'm assuming she's solely doing that to figure out whether you grasp the usage of said word. If that's not the case; then such an effort takes up a lot of precious time.
 

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I fail to see the point of me making a completely random sentence, with no context using 往返票 , 决定,etc。 ... a useless activity


Studying vocab from a list, or from flashcards is not productive in itself. Memorizing words by shear repetition is one of the worst ways to go about it. You won't remember a word, or rather remember it in appropriate setting if said word/vocab doesn't have any context to latch onto. You're not a child, as such you didn't have 18 years to learn the language and learn through use an immersion. As such,  creating sentences, albeit artificially, is a way to create context where non exists. In the end you'll have to ask yourself; what's more important? Active or passive vocab? Do you want to be able to use the language or merely understand it when reading. If your goal is the former, then, sadly, you'll have to put yourself in these uncomfortable situations where you're grasping at straws sometimes. Learning a language is like riding a bike; you'll never learn it unless you get rid of those training wheels that give you a deceiving sense of control. Only by making mistakes and subsequently correcting those mistakes will you be able to master a language. If you think that creating sentences from words you've learned doesn't give you context or something to latch onto; then try a different method.

 

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It just seems so meaningless, there is no point to make the sentence.


Why do you study Chinese? Don't you wish to better express yourself?

 

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Its often not that its "hard" but rather i have no idea, no inspiration to make a sentence.


Which means you don't properly grasp the grammar you've learned up to that point, or you should ask your teacher to focus on what you might want to say in English and let them help you in your effort to better express yourself.



Also, another question; Are you a native English speaker?

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I will grant you in my experience small group Hanyu classes are rarely inspiring or challenging in creative ways. The difficult factor usually lies in the pacing or quantity, which can be unproductive imo. 

 

That being said, your language learning is always up to you. The impotus is on you to make it meaningful. This is even more so knowing that this teacher had no history with you and could not have known your individual needs/wants. 

 

When I was given the 'make a sentence out iof every word' homework, I turned those into a story that happened to me, a dream sequence, a creative writing challenge, or even a survey to ask friends, colleagues, strangers, etc. No, it's not always easy to combine the random HSK vocabulary into one cohesive 文本, but in the end it's your learning, and you need to take control of it. 

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somethingfunny

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I agree, there is little value in asking you to make a sentence with a noun, or proper noun, like “North Korea”. Because a lazy student can always just say “I like X.”  But that is poor quality teaching. The teacher is thinking, “I’ve got this tool which I can always rely on which is to ask them to make a sentence with the new word.” A better teacher would have a good idea of the kind of sentence they want you to make already and choose word(s) to direct you towards that. 

 

So, better sentence generation tasks would be:

 

1. Use 朝鲜 and 想 to 造句子.

Here the teacher wants you to make the simple sentence 我想去朝鲜.

2. Use 朝鲜 and 觉得 to 造句子.

This is asking you to use the newly learnt word to express an opinion.  This should remove the difficulty with the ‘making a sentence’ activity which is usually: “where do I even begin?”

3.  Use 朝鲜 and 往返票 to 造句子.

This is now getting more difficult.  The student should easily be able to come up with a sentence in English like: “I want to buy a return ticket to North Korea.” But will then have to think carefully and sentence structure and ordering.

 

As Weyland says, simply memorising semantic pairs is only going to get you so far. The job of the teacher is to help you integrate new vocabulary into existing schemes by carefully thinking about the sentences they want you to make.

 

So, in conclusion, I have sympathy for your position, but I don’t think we should give up on the “making a sentence” activity just yet.

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DavyJonesLocker

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1 hour ago, somethingfunny said:

The job of the teacher is to help you integrate new vocabulary into existing schemes by carefully thinking about the sentences they want you to make.

 

 

Fully agree, but  problem good luck find a teacher that will do it though. The average standard of Chinese teaching in Beijing is pretty shocking as far as I can see, from my experience and talking to many others (ok small sample set)

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7 hours ago, Weyland said:

Question: Aren't you supposed to prepare the unit before you start a class? Isn't the point of having a teacher all about having someone there to correct you? So when she's telling you to "make a sentence with word A" I'm assuming she's solely doing that to figure out whether you grasp the usage of said word. If that's not the case; then such an effort takes up a lot of precious time.
 

Fair enough. Maybe. So far what I've been doing is "familiarizing myself" with the main points of the unit before working on it with the teacher. I listen to the dialogs, shadow them, I get a basic understanding of the unfamiliar words, I read the grammar explanations. I then like to work through it together with the teacher so I can get practice and fuller comprehension. As we spend 6+ sessions on a unit, I do C- Pod episodes with related topics/grammar/vocab.

 

Should I try to learn the entire unit inside out before going through it with the teacher? I don't know. maybe.

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2 minutes ago, suMMit said:

Should I try to learn the entire unit inside out before going through it with the teacher? I don't know. maybe


Maybe you're going to quickly? Or you could ask her have these example sentences be "homework" you send to her by mail, and then discuss them at the start of every new lesson. I think is bothering you most is the time that is wasted when you have to think of these examples. Plus, it takes very little work for the teacher (which is a bad thing).

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7 hours ago, Weyland said:

Which means you don't properly grasp the grammar you've learned up to that point, or you should ask your teacher to focus on what you might want to say in English and let them help you in your effort to better express yourself.

In the dialog where the word is used, the sentence is "Wangfanpiao duoshao qian?" So if I said that, she'd know that I had grasped that word and the grammar surrounding it? If she said something like "you want to go to Beijing and back, what do you say to the ticket seller?" I think would be far better than Gei wo yi ge ju zi

 

7 hours ago, Weyland said:

Also, another question; Are you a native English speaker?

Aye.

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4 hours ago, 道艺黄帝 said:

When I was given the 'make a sentence out iof every word' homework, I turned those into a story that happened to me, a dream sequence

Yeah, Ive had exercises like this and enjoyed then. But this was Not homework, just word after word "xia yi ge, gei wo yi ge juzi". 

 

4 hours ago, 道艺黄帝 said:

This is even more so knowing that this teacher had no history with you and could not have known your individual needs/wants. 

Granted. But I don't think this is a good exercise for any student. Just unskilled teaching.

3 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

 

I agree, there is little value in asking you to make a sentence with a noun, or proper noun, like “North Korea”. Because a lazy student can always just say “I like X.”  But that is poor quality teaching. The teacher is thinking, “I’ve got this tool which I can always rely on which is to ask them to make a sentence with the new word.” A better teacher would have a good idea of the kind of sentence they want you to make already and choose word(s) to direct you towards that. 

 

So, better sentence generation tasks would be:

 

1. Use 朝鲜 and 想 to 造句子.

Here the teacher wants you to make the simple sentence 我想去朝鲜.

2. Use 朝鲜 and 觉得 to 造句子.

This is asking you to use the newly learnt word to express an opinion.  This should remove the difficulty with the ‘making a sentence’ activity which is usually: “where do I even begin?”

3.  Use 朝鲜 and 往返票 to 造句子.

This is now getting more difficult.  The student should easily be able to come up with a sentence in English like: “I want to buy a return ticket to North Korea.” But will then have to think carefully and sentence structure and ordering.

 

As Weyland says, simply memorising semantic pairs is only going to get you so far. The job of the teacher is to help you integrate new vocabulary into existing schemes by carefully thinking about the sentences they want you to make.

 

So, in conclusion, I have sympathy for your position, but I don’t think we should give up on the “making a sentence” activity just yet

 

This

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