Building up the Elements

It is easy for children to produce Chinese words, and not difficult to remember them. However, how to transit from simple Chinese words to phrases, or even long sentences? This blog is about how we help children build up simple elements to form complete sentences in our Chinese immersion classes.
Since we have small class sizes, our teachers know clearly the Chinese level of every child. Depending on every individual student’s Chinese level, teachers push each one of them to the next level.
For example, sentence structures such as “I want…” “I do not want…” which are used a lot in class and daily life settings are input first repeatedly. Nouns such as the names of fruits, animals are also among the priority. Most students begin to understand/repeat these essential and simple elements of the language in a very short time (such as after one or two classes based on our experiences.)
Once a child begins to produce Chinese, we continue to push his/her language learning further by introducing things one level further. According to the “Input Hypothesis,” when learners are acquiring a second language, if “i” is their current level of competence, they naturally progress towards “i+1” which is the level immediately following the i1.
For instance, after one child is capable of speaking “我要。(I want.)”, we push the child further to speak “我要熊。(I want the bear.)” Then gradually we push the student to speak “我要一只熊。(I want one bear.)” And later, the student will be capable of speaking “我要一只蓝色的熊。(I want one blue bear.)”
The first time of producing a long and complete sentence is usually hard. However, gradually, children comprehend each element of the sentence. They expand it further to sentences such as “我要两只蓝色的熊。(I want two blue bears.)”/ “我要一只绿色的熊。(I want one green bear.)”

1. For more information of Input Hypothesis, you may go to:

-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

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