Activity Snapshot (I) – Crossing the Tunnel

To provide you with a more straightforward impression of language immersion, this blog series is about how different activities work in an immersion class. Here is a snapshot of one of our classroom activities, which aims at teaching children animal vocabularies and also the sentence “这是什么?” (What is this?)

We use a play tunnel and a number of toy animals. The teacher sits at one side of the tunnel with all the animals by her side and children surrounding her. She picks up one animal and says the animal name in Chinese clearly, for example “兔子(rabbit).” Then one child gets the “兔子” and crawls through the tunnel with the “兔子” in his/her hand – Children always get really excited about this task. When he/she is crossing, the teacher hands another animal to the next child. After crawling out of the tunnel, the child goes back to the teacher and gives “兔子” back to her. The child then gets another animal and the word’s pronunciation, for example“老虎(tiger).” The child crawls across the tunnel again with “老虎.”

After several times of repetitions, the teacher tries to let children produce the words. She picks up an animal, and asks the student “这是什么?(What is this?)” If the child figures out the meaning of this question sentence, and says the name of the animal. He takes the animal and crawls across the tunnel again. However, if the student does not get the meaning of “这是什么?” the teacher will answer by herself, “兔子。” She makes the answer as simple as possible not to confuse the student. Children can always recognize the meaning of “这是什么?” the second time and try to conduct the animal’s name. After several rounds of repetitions, children know the animal vocabulary, and the sentence “这是什么?”

The remaining work of the teacher is to repeat the same information in other activities again and again to reinforce the memory. This activity is used as a basic vocabulary introduction, which works for all categories of nouns.

-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas