Being a Language Learner Again – Part II

It has been a month into my Chinese classes. I have made some (little) progress. Moreover, from the teacher’s perspective, the classes have made me realize so much about language learning that I guess it’s time for another post.

  1. Nodding. If you’re a language teacher, beware of it. Don’t trust it. I, for example, nod fiercely especially when I have no idea what my teacher is trying to explain. Check that your students understand your explanation. Nodding is the easiest way for the student to avoid working hard.
  2. Notebooks. I would suggest that you check what your students write down in their notebooks. I am sure my notes are full of mistakes and I appreciate it when my teacher has a look at what I wrote down. As a teacher, I check what my Czech students write in their notebooks in the first weeks of their study and always find some mistakes.
  3. Homework. Check it. As much as I hate checking homework, because it takes so long, I feel proud when I have done mine and want to go over it with my teacher first thing in the lesson.
  4. Explanations. Use very few words to explain things. Speak slowly. Repeat using the same words. Don’t use words students don’t know.
  5. Relevance to your life. If my teacher asks me a personal question, I am much more motivated to express myself in the target language. Little do I care about the poor character Dawei (David) from England that is featured in the book. Now I also understand why my students would create completely crazy roleplays when I asked then to write something similar to the dialogue we had studied. The power you’re given to use the language!
  6. Correcting. If you’re correcting, don’t just say what is wrong. Help your student understand why it’s wrong and what they can do to correct their mistake. I’m referring to pronunciation here. When I repeat what my teacher said, and the teacher says it’s wrong, it is very helpful if she also clarifies how I (wrongly) say it and what I need to change about my pronunciation.
  7. Finally a realization for the learner – don’t lose the big picture. It’s very easy to just do your homework and read through the pages you did in the last lesson. Dream big and hold onto your dreams. Do other things. Learn some new characters. Watch a video. Learn something the teacher didn’t teach. Prepare a short series of questions to ask your teacher at the start of the lesson. Work towards your dreams.

11 thoughts on “Being a Language Learner Again – Part II

    1. Thanks very much, Giulia. Any links to decent and easy Chinese programs are much appreciated. I also need to learn the body parts to understand my teacher’s tai-chi lectures but I already have a Quizlet set for it 🙂
      Take care


  1. Oh, good luck! Chinese is fun 🙂
    Those are good tips. Especially the “use few words, repeat, talk slowly”. I’m working part time with kids now and learning how to explain things to them (sometimes it’s needed) is a humbling experience. They don’t yet have the instinct to see a sentence with a gap and know what to do with it, or to know what “ok repeat after me” means, no matter how many hand gestured you make with it. The frustration is real, but it gets your brain working.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! I don’t teach kids but I can imagine it’s quite a challenge just for the reasons you mention. Learning Chinese has really affected my teaching. Have a great time! I enjoy reading your posts from places around the Czech Republic:-) Kamila


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