The 2nd edition of Easy Steps to Chinese is especially de-signed for non-Chinese background students, who are learning Chinese as a second/foreign language. The series can be used by secondary school students as well as fifth and sixth graders in primary schools.
This series will help students establish a solid foundation of Chinese in terms of characters, words, sentences and grammar through natural and gradual integration of language, themes and culture. The simultaneous development of listening, speak-ing, reading and writing is especially emphasized. The ultimate aim is to help students develop communication skills in Chinese in real-life situations and express their viewpoints appropriately, precisely, logically and coherently.
The series consists of seven books in three stages:
Stage 1 (Books 1, 2, 3): the focus of this stage is to establish a solid foundation through the learning of pinyin, characters, vocabulary and grammar. The aim is to help students foster an interest in learning Chinese and develop skills in using simple Chinese for communication.
Stage 2 (Books 4 and 5): the focus of this stage is to learn more vocabulary and grammar so that students are able to use the language functionally when communicating with people in real-life situations.
Stage 3 (Books 6 and 7): the focus of this stage is to provide students with authentic materials, and help them develop com-munication skills. It is believed that when the time comes, the students will be confident in expressing their viewpoints pre-cisely, appropriately, logically and coherently in both oral and written forms.
Ms. Yamin Ma has an M.Ed. in Curriculum Design and Instruction from Queen’s University, Canada. She used to teach English at both secondary and university levels in Shanghai (China), Hong Kong (China) and Kingston (Canada) for over 10 years and has taught Chinese at primary and secondary levels in Hong Kong (China) for more than 20 years. Ms. Ma has been the Head of the Chinese Department in Island School (located in Hong Kong, China) for over two decades and has taught IGCSE, AS/A-Levels and IB Language B courses.
Ms. Xinying Li holds a postgraduate diploma in Applied Linguistics from Tsinghua University, China. She has taught English at university level in Beijing (China) before starting teaching Chinese at university and secondary levels in Edinburgh (U.K.), London (U.K.) and Hong Kong (China) for 30 years. Ms. Li is currently a Chinese language teacher and Head of Chinese Faculty in an international school in Hong Kong, China. She has rich experience in teaching I/GCSE, A/AS-Levels and IB Language B courses.
Both Ms. Ma and Ms. Li are experts in the field of Chinese language teaching and learning, and authors of two Chinese textbook series, which have been bestsellers worldwide for 20 years. Ms. Ma and Ms. Li continue to offer training and workshops to teachers of Chinese around the world.
In order to meet the students’ needs to prepare for various exams and to achieve good grades, the core vocabulary, gram-mar and requirements of various exams are taken as reference when designing the series. Some unique features of this series:
Pinyin appears on top of characters at an early stage and is gradually removed as the students develop their Chinese profi-ciency. The teaching of pronunciation with corresponding exer-cises is designed systematically and scientifically.
The series stresses the importance of teaching basic strokes and compound strokes, stroke order, radicals and character structures. Character writing exercises are provided to reinforce the learning of characters.
In order for the students to better understand and more easily memorize the new words and phrases, an attempt has been made to ensure that only one character in each phrase is new, and only one meaning of this new character is given. For each lesson, new words and phrases are listed generally according to the order that they appear in the text; however, some phrases containing the same character are listed together for ease of learning.
Vocabulary expansion is made possible through a good under-standing of the meaning of each character in a phrase. Some of the words that appear in earlier stages are repeated and prac-ticed in later stages to reinforce and consolidate the learning.
Grammatical rules are explained in a simple manner, followed by practice exercises in contexts.
Themes are varied and relevant to students’ real life, and are carefully selected according to students’ age group, interest and level of Chinese in each stage.
Listening exercises are evenly spread out in each lesson. The listening script uses the same topic and vocabulary as in the lesson, while adding some new words that appropriately chal-lenge the students.
Speaking exercises take various forms that are interesting and relevant to students’ life so that the students are able to develop communication skills in real-life situations.
Reading materials cover a wide range of topics, such as daily life, humanities, arts, history, geography, new technology, en-vironmental protection, etc. The themes of reading are varied and the texts are authentic in nature.
Writing training starts at the outset and remains a focal point throughout the series. The students are expected to use different styles and apply what they have learned in the course to write appropriately, precisely, logically and coherently.
With three periods, of approximately three hours per week, most students will be able to complete one book within one academic year.Fast learners can spend less than a year completing one book.
How to use this series:
Stress the importance of character structure when teaching new words. Knowing the meaning of the character in phrases will help students guess the meanings of new vocabulary that they encounter later on.
Emphasize the importance of having a good grasp of the new vocabulary and content of each lesson. At the same time, the teacher should create opportunities for the students to functionally use what they have learned.
Draw students’ attention to the texts in each lesson, as the texts are samples for oral and written work. The teacher should explain explicitly the formats and requirements of different text styles. The oral and written exercises can be modified to suit students’ levels.
Select exercises in the Textbook and Workbook to match with your teaching plan. All the exercises provided can be modified or expanded according to students’ abilities and levels of Chi-nese.
Besides the Textbook and Workbook, the series includes additional materials such as exercises for specific language skills, revision books for exams, Teacher’s Book, and digital resources, as well as word cards, picture flashcards, lesson plans and test papers.
Make good use of the supplementary resources provided. The teaching suggestions in the Teacher’s Book and the answers to the exercises in the Textbook and Workbook are just for reference.
Pace the course according to your teaching plan. As the series is continuous and ongoing, each book can be taught within any time span.