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Short films about China to show beginner students


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Hello all. I have recently started teaching 基础汉语 in Delhi University. The 材料 is pre-decided. The Elementary Chinese Readers series is being followed in DU ever since Chinese teaching started here. However, the teachers have leeway in experimenting with teaching methods and can make use of A/V material in the class too.


The class I teach is at complete beginner level. We are doing ECR Book 1. I wish to show short movies about different aspects of China to better engage them in learning. Here I am talking about very broad-based films/videos like the ones shown on TLC or NatGeo, where the idea is to familiarise the layperson with a new topic. 


Could people please suggest some short films (30-45 minutes preferably, duration negotiable depending upon how good the film is) I could show to my students? Some of the ideas I have in mind are transformation of China in the last century (cityscape, pop culture, international perception), food, martial arts.. Please remember that the students are complete beginners, and are rather unfamiliar with China. (Their quoted reasons for taking up the language can be discussed here, too :P  )

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Hi Prateeksha,

perhaps you could check at a Confucius Institute library if there is one around.

The Chinese Cultural Center in Paris has a library where people can check out DVDs, and a lot of them are relatively short documentaries about various aspects of Chinese culture, with English subtitles and/or soundtrack. List here: http://www.cccparis.org/mediatheque_DVD_documentaires.htm

Or perhaps you could obtain some material from Confucius Institute Online or Hanban directly. I remember reading about book giveaways to associations and organizations that teach Chinese, I don't remember if DVDs were also included...

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Could people please suggest some short films (30-45 minutes preferably, duration


Please remember that the students are complete beginners

I fear that these two don't mix very well. First of all something meaningful of this length is probably far too complex for an absolute beginner. Also I have my doubts about the staying power of the students. As a beginner it can be extremely hard to stay concentrated for more then a few minutes of intensive listening. Using subtitles may help, but deminishes the added value.


I would suggest you start with short clips of a few minutes. These are easier to find, can be better tailored to the level of the students and can be watched a couple of times in the same lesson. E.g. watch it, discus it, watch it again (possibly in parts) with the focus on certain language and cultural points and finally watch the clip again (possibly with subtitles). As a bonus after a few clips from the same movie or soap opera students may be motivated to watch the entire movie/episode in their own time.

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Thank you all for taking time to respond!


edelweis: This is the kind of stuff I am looking for, thank you very much! Unfortunately in Delhi, we neither have Confucius Institute nor Hanban. In fact, no sort of Chinese cultural centre. It is weird because we do have Japan Foundation and Korea Centre. My professors believe such a conspicuous absence has to do with the general state of India-China relations. 


tysond: I should absolutely have mentioned this in the first go. The videos are supposed to be in English, or with English subtitles.


Silent: I am sorry I did not clarify in the original post. 


I welcome any further suggestions.

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Thank you for the suggestions, akdn!


tysond, I think I am going to start with A Bite of China. I have already heard a lot about this movie, but never checked it out. I am afraid it will have scenes of hanging carcasses or stuff which really scares me, so could never muster the strength. Anyway, this seems to be the best, most easily accessible, and free option out of all. Thank you again!

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It's not a movie, they are like TV documentary episodes.  7 episodes, 50 minutes each.

I think there are a few "stories" per episode.


The first couple of episodes are mostly about grains and bread and mushrooms and lotus and stuff like that.  

There is an episode about making cured meats (like hams and stuff).  I don't remember much that is very scary.

You could always skip the meat stuff and still have plenty of content.


But be careful about watching on an empty stomach.  That's dangerous :-)

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I'd recommend using videos where you have access to the transcript ahead of time. Then provide the students with a copy of the vocabulary and any relevant idioms. That should help a lot in terms of knowing if it's an appropriate level as well as giving the students a chance to learn the vocab ahead of time. That's not going to guarantee that it's easy enough, but it does let them know that they know the words, they just have to identify them in context and recognize the words spoken.

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