Every week, our elementary children are introduced to one picture book. The class is organized following the language learning order of “input –> output”. Thus, they are exposed to Chinese characters and sentence structures from the particular picture book first and then they are required to produce the story by themselves using what they just learned.
In the academic field, scholars have emphasized the function of “output” in second language learning. Particulary in the case of language learning, the “output” is not viewed as a product, but as a process. It can be defined as the process of language learners producing language with their existing knowledge of the language (Swain, 2007.) Therefore, they are pushed to evaluate their existing knowledge of the target language, and think about what more they need to know/ learn.
For example, in our last blog, we have introduced a picture book called The Rainbow Flower. As a matter of fact, the book is not only used in our immersion program, it is also used in our elementary program.
The students are first introduced to the story. For this book, they learn to recognize Chinese characters for “红色，黄色，蓝色，绿色，橙色，紫色” (red, yellow, blue, green, orange, and purple) as well as characters for “蚂蚁，老鼠，蜥蜴，鸟，刺猬” (ant, mouse, lizard, bird, and hedgehog.) And then they learn the sentence structures such as: “小老鼠问小花：‘小花小花，你可以不可以给我一片花瓣？’，小花说：‘可以可以。’” (The little mouse asked the little flower: “Little flower, little flower, would you please give me a pedal of yours?” The little flower responded: “Sure.” )
After that, students are required to tell the story by themselves following the book. In this step, they are experiencing the language output with the knowledge input to them just now.
Note: Swain, (2007) Retrived from http://www.celea.org.cn/2007/keynote/ppt/Merrill%20Swain.pdf 10.21.2011
-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas