As we approach another fall holiday, and we are certainly all giving thanks for a break to spend time with our families, fur babies and other loved ones, I thought I would share some of the exciting work that Rebecca Feng has been doing with her Chinese classes and Chinese Club.
Guest Blogger: Rebecca Feng, RBHS
Here you see the Mid autumn festival Field Trip to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, performances of Lion dance and Kung Fu show (dancers flew from China for this festival). Lanterns are also directly from China.
We left school at 1:00 and arrived back at 10:00, but students didn't want to leave because they were enjoying the lanterns so much. This holiday is equal to U.S. Thanksgiving Day because it is the second largest festival in China and a day that family gets together to celebrate because it is the full moon in the middle of the year. Traditionally, we go outside and place a table in the garden and have dinner together and appreciate the moon. In ancient times, large families would do singing and dancing and poets would recite poetry. The trip was open to any Chinese students, and Chinese club and students interested in Chinese culture. Afterward, we went directly to a restaurant that serves Southern Cantonese style Dim Sum. Next year during Chinese New Year we are going to Atlanta to the Buddhist Temple.
In the classroom, Rebecca has been working very hard on a virtual exchange with several classes from China, in which her students actually Skype back and forth in order to practice their Chinese. The students in China are practicing their English. Rebecca shared:
We (the EFL teacher of XinDu No. 1 Middle School & I) started with one Skype session every 3 weeks on Thursdays 8:25am--9am U.S. Eastern Time. The ones we did in past weeks were with my Chinese 1 students. Based on what they learned, the first Skype communication was simply to ask and answer personal information and hobbies. Motivated by this authentic communication opportunity, my Chinese 1 students came to me after class asking questions beyond the learned vocabulary and structures, so as to be able to ask and answer seasonal questions to Chinese students about Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in their second communication session. They also started to greet and talk to me in school in front of other students and explain the meaning of our short conversations to other students. I'm so thrilled to see this important step forward in fostering a positive atmosphere toward learning Chinese (spread on campus as the most difficult language in the world to study) initiated by Chinese students themselves. One more time I am convinced that Authenticity is Powerful.
So far the Chinese 1 class finished their exchange with the Chinese school this year. Due to the 13 hour time difference, Chinese 1 will have to wait until next year Daylight Saving Time in March to resume their Skype with the Chinese school. Made hyper by the authentic speaking communication, Chinese 1 students requested more culture exchange. Students took the lead a few weeks ago and started a "25 Days to Christmas calendar" project with both Chinese and English sessions on each date, to send to XinDu No.1 Middle School as their first hand-made culture & language exchange gift! I was truly touched by their passion and action.
With the successful experience from Chinese 1, now we (the EFL teacher and I) are working to include more Chinese EFL teachers in their school and their students to communicate with my other levels of Chinese classes using Skype, in order to share the load of working at evenings in China while getting more students on both sides to experience this language and culture exchange. We are even working to possibly broadcast some of our other classes, such as physics, to the Chinese school so they can sit in and observe.
Rebecca, your work is encouraging and inspiring! Thanks to all of you who regularly go above and beyond to make language learning real and authentic to our students. They notice!
World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)