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Language Schools Teaching Methods


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I actually got this idea from roddy's post on another thread...

Ok' date=' I'm now in a position to answer my own question. I went along to the Bridge School last night to try a lesson.


I wasn't too impressed with the structure of the lesson - read the new words, read the text, repeat for two hours. [/quote']

I've noticed that this is often the method for courses in foreign languages. Unfortunately, for high intermediate to advanced level students it seems somewhat inadequate (at least to me). Does anyone have any experience with different teaching methods used in BJ?

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When my ex-girlfriend took Chinese at our university, her Advanced Chinese laoshi used a textbook called the Promises and Peril of China where they read (mostly) Lu Xun's literature, among other modern writers. Then they would actually discuss the moral of the stories and sometimes even have debates. However, they do still have new vocabularies though. She told me it was a lot more interactive and fun for the advanced students.

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I can't really answer your question I'm afraid, as I haven't studied in Beijing. But I'd be really interested to know you consider to be good teaching methods for a group class. My teacher is always handing out feedback forms and stuff and I'm sure he'd be happy to try out new ideas, if I could think of any.

At the moment, he gives us some reading to prepare before each class and asks us all to prepare something to say so that we can discuss the topic. We've been reading a lot of confucius lately (with explanations in modern chinese as well) and the discussion could be on anything from corruption to the iraq war to family relationships ... pretty broad topics and he doesn't really mind what we say as long as we say something.

The classes are interesting but because they are quite informal I find I'm not really expanding my vocab much. I tend to rely on vocab that I know rather than being pushed by a textbook to learn 50 new words a lesson or something. I guess I should be doing more of the boring repetitive stuff outside of class...

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Discussion based classes are always pretty good in my opinion. I guess that's more along the lines of what I'm looking for. A possible way to improve would be for the teacher to assign vocabulary that might be useful in a discussion about a reading. For instance, if you're reading about Confucius and his views on music you can add vocabulary about music styles today or something like that.

When I get to BJ i'm going to have to get my spoken Chinese back up to snuff, and then I'm going to have to focus on building my vocabulary again.

I felt like there are 4 distinct levels in language ability.

1. beginner - just that. Someone who just started.

2. intermediate - knows the basics and is able to do things but isn't quite able to express themselves well.

3. advanced - has a strong grasp of the language and i able to express themselves on a variety of subjects.

4. fluent - is able to express themselves in the same way a native speaker would.

I think the difference between 2 & 3 and 3 & 4 are mainly vocabulary (and word choice between 3 & 4). To try to increase my vocaublary to the level of Chinese people I've tried different tactics: newspapers and magazines (for the variety of different subjects), I found a nice dictionary called a tujie (tushuguan de tu) cidian for learning all those random words that you can describe but don't know what to call (along with pictures--this book actually taught me the english words for a lot of trees and flowers and such that I didn't know the word for in english). I'm also still looking for a good method to learn the regular speech patterns of people. I'm thinking that the best place (besides talking to people of course) might be in those little fiction novels that some people read, but I'm not too sure if that is the best place, so if anyone has any suggestions on how to learn how to speak like the Chinese do, please let me know.

Also, what are some of the methods people have used to learn how to write well in Chinese? This is very, very far away for me, but I'd still be interested in hearing them.

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  • 2 months later...

Perhaps I can shed some light on Bridge School. I checked out several of the programs in Beijing prior to going there. Compared to the other private schools, Bridge School has its act together. Compared to a university, it is still lacking. But it all depends on what your schedlue will allow and how much you want to push yourself.

I went there and did levels 1-3 of their 5 level program. I found level 1 to be the best. The students all came in knowing nothing and the teaching style was flexible enough to accomodate us all. It was a soft introduction to Chinese.

But from level 2 on, the school tends to push students upwards, regardless of their abilities. Because it is a private school, they are reluctant to tell a student they can't advance, as the school does not want to lose the income by causing their students to leave. This played havoc on our classtime, as some students either didn't remember/know what they had learned in lower levels, or they weren't doing any work outside of class. For those of us who were, it was a drag on our studies.

In one of the problem classes, 3 of the 7 students complained to the management about the quality of the teacher. They did nothing to change the situation. We three ended up paying extra to leave the classs and take on a private teacher. The school did not discount the private lesson fee, nor offer us any other recompense. They told us their program and fees were fixed and were not subject to negotiation.

I found their teachers inconsistent. My first teacher was fantastic. The second flat-out sucked. The third had difficulty keeping the class focused and moving forward. My last teacher was also terrrific. So it's hit and miss there.

Then they raised their hourly rates to 100 rmb in May 2002, which I think is way overpriced for classroom teaching. The school did not raise the teacher's wages when they raised the tuition. I talked to my teacher and cut a deal for private lessons. It's a win-win. He gets paid more than the school will give him and I get a big discount.

Because the Bridge School doesn't want to upset its students, it does not push them to work hard, nor hold them accountable. Most of it's students are either working full time and studying after hours, or are non-working spouses taking Chinese to fill their days.

If you want a well structured curriculum that will push you to excell in yor language learning, go to a university. If you want a flexible program that has an established track record and will accomodate your schedule, go to the Bridge School.

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