This final blog post of my 2014 In-Depth study will describe and finalize my learning centre. The learning centre, similar to that of the one presented on Night of the Notables, is where us TALONS learners can display our achievements during our in-depth study. The learning centre includes an interactive component as well.
Since I am learning a language as my in-depth study, I have decided to make my learning centre strongly oral-based. Pronunciation and speech is the component that I have been working on the longest, and it is something I have confidently developed during my study. For my learning centre, I am planning on reciting an autobiography of myself in Chinese Mandarin, using the pinyin pronunciation paying attention to the four tones. I will have the autobiography written in Chinese character form and Chinese pinyin form, with the corresponding English translation. This will allow foreigners to be able to understand what I am saying, and will give Chinese people the opportunity to listen to my pronunciation and read the Chinese text too. Unfortunately, I am unable to fully translate sentences at this point as my choice of language is extremely difficult. However, Hannah Duan, my mentor, has created an alternate way to evaluate my learning, specifically my “Chinese ear”. Upon translating my autobiography, Hannah will recite my autobiography in Mandarin Chinese. My job is to use what I have learned about pinyin and the four tones and write the biography in Chinese pinyin fashion. The idea behind this is to test my knowledge of pinyin and the four tones. As mentioned in previous posts, Chinese students who learn to read and write Mandarin usually know how to fluently speak the language, so the vocabulary is already inside them. Since I am a foreigner, and I have only been practicing my study for close to 5 months, it is near impossible to have a competent vocabulary as well as proficiency with the unique chinese characters. Nonetheless, I have not completely neglected the characters. Hannah is still working with me in honing my pronunciation as well as slowly introducing me to new and simple words with their respective pinyin and chinese characters.
For my interactive component, I will give people the opportunity to write Chinese Mandarin on their own! I will have piles of numbers 1-10 and I will ask participants to choose a number, their favourite perhaps. I will have the pinyin and Chinese character for each number on the card, and I will let the participants to try writing out that number in both pinyin and Chinese character form. I know when I was learning the characters, I thoroughly enjoyed writing and practising them out, despite their difficulty. I feel that people will be able to try something new while learning a new word or two. Since I am learning new words in Chinese character form, I may also give additional choices to allow more variety and interest to be present in my interactive component.
No electronic equipment is needed for my learning centre and there is no specific place I need to be. My learning centre is very simple and will contain a display and my interactive component, which does not involve much movement. I am also considering adding minor “cultural touches” to my learning centre to give my learning centre a more appealing look. Little things such as a Chinese tablecloth or Green tea can make my in-depth study seem more home-like. My cultural touches, however, are not finalized.
I am meeting with Hannah on a weekly basis, learning as much as I can before In-Depth night. Since languages such as Mandarin are such broad topics, they are definitely something to consider continuing during next year’s in-depth. But let’s not get carried away! Finish on putting together a fantastic in-depth presentation this year!