XLIS Featured Teacher
IB Language Class My Chinese Sentiments
XLIS, the first IB World School authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization in the northwestern region of China, has been focusing on educating students to be confident, open-minded global citizen since it was founded in 2003. In the past years, we have been constantly attracting the best talents in international education as well as carefully cultivating international educators in local Xi’an. In the course of time, a great number of excellent teachers have emerged from XLIS who are highly skilled and tireless in their teaching. We have invited Ms. Nancy Jing, Head of Primary Chinese Language, to share her deep heart sentiments to Chinese with us.
There is no better way to appreciate the beauty of life than to enjoy it. As a new member who joined XLIS in August this year, I am curious about everything here. XLIS has opened a new window for me to see the world. I look forward to contributing to XLIS Chinese education with enthusiasm and professionalism.
In my career for more than 20 years, I have always remembered the words of the great educator Suhomlinski: ‘Education, first of all, is to kindly, thoughtfully, and carefully cultivate the young mind.’ ‘Kindly’ means love, ‘thoughtfully’ means professionalism, and ‘carefully’ is the awe of the sacred cause of igniting, awakening, and shaping the soul. I have always believed that only when these ‘three attributes’ are in place can you become an outstanding teacher. In every Chinese class in the past, I was more committed to discovering the humanistic spirit hidden in the language with the students and guiding every immature soul to integrate this spirit into their own. Let every child have the confidence and courage to face the world in the future.
When I first knew IB, I felt that it was a brand-new curriculum for me, because I used to teach Chinese in local schools. The educational concepts, teaching models, and evaluation tools of the two are very different, however, the more I learned, the more I discovered. I think that all language learning in the world is essentially the same. No matter what kind of language, the key factors are ‘language construction and application, the development of thinking, the appreciation and creation of aesthetics, and the understanding and transmission of culture.’ The difference is that IB language teaching emphasizes more on transdisciplinary learning, and the learning outcome of each lesson is more direct and rational. The task is clearer, while the traditional Chinese lesson in local school focuses more on the learning the subject itself, such as the accumulation of words, taste of details, expression of emotions, etc. I think, as a Chinese teacher in an IB school, if you can combine the advantages of both in your daily teaching, you will bring something new and innovative. In P4, the unit was ‘how the world works’, the central idea is ‘People arrange words into sentences and express their ideas’, and the key concept is ‘Form’. The topic was set as Beautiful Autumn. Based on the students’ cognitive ability, I chose a series of beautiful articles describing the beauty of autumn(the selected articles all have a strong Chinese aesthetic sentiment) for reading class, so that students had opportunities to inquiry into the form of autumn (understand the key concepts) from various perspectives such as colors, rain, leaves, moon, sounds, insects, and gardens, and appreciate the expression of sentences (reflect on the central idea), and then make it clear that the change of seasons is how nature works (reflect on theme of the unit). Finally, students were asked to experience the nature during the holidays to discover autumn, and draw the autumn they observe, write it down, and show it to others, which in turn develops them active inquirers. In the entire unit of learning, teaching and learning were going well, the Chinese and Western educational concepts connect to each other and complement each other.
IB’s philosophy is to cultivate students’ international awareness, cross-cultural communication skills and critical thinking skills. The basic function of language learning is to show people your identity, and the other function is to develop international mindedness. In other words, only by knowing the culture of your home country, can you be more confident in being a global citizen and making connection to other cultures. XLIS has international family members from 41 countries and regions. Although only foreign students are recruited at XLIS, they regard China as their second hometown as they have settled in China with their parents for a long time. They all want to have a deep learning about Chinese culture. Some of them only stay here for a short time due to their parents’ job changes, but they still show a strong interest in learning Chinese culture.
The famous scholar Long Yingtai said that language is not a wooden stick, but a living thousand-year-old tree, intertwined and deeply rooted in the soil of history and culture. So, how to combine traditional Chinese culture with the language learning of IB education? I think, in addition to the building foundation in daily teaching, we should also design some unique cultural activities to give students an immersive experience.
First of all, we design different traditional activities for each traditional Chinese festival. For example, in the Mid-Autumn Festival, we let children to make handmade clay moon cakes, moon lights, moon collages, and Mid-Autumn Festival lanterns. We also had role-play about Mid-Autumn Festival legends. We had‘Mid-Autumn Story’ competition and calligraphy performances and other cultural activities, through these immersive experiences, students deeply experienced the long history and unique charm of Chinese traditional culture, and fell in love with the Mid-Autumn Festival. They learned how to use Chinese characters to express their blessings to relatives and friends in this beautiful festival!
Secondly, we would like to set up the ‘Chinese Culture Week’ every semester. The activity for each grade will be discussed, researched and planned by all teachers in the Chinese team, which ensures the richness, variety and spiral progress of activities. For example, ‘Chinese character stories, classic poems, twenty-four solar terms, secret history of Chinese dynasties, Chinese folklore, Chinese folk art, the art of Chinese garden, Chinese Kungfu, Chinese opera, Chinese dragon, Chinese tea culture, common imagery in chanting poems.These activities will allow students to have a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of Chinese cultural in a certain field during a week-long research activity.
The field trips about exploring Chinese cultural are also included in our plan! Xi’an is a well-known historical city. There are countless places of interest and cultural stories. As the object of Chinese history and culture for XLIS students, Xi’an has unique features. I am sure students will write a detailed and interesting ‘Chinese Culture Investigation Report after experiencing the majesty of the Han and Tang Dynasties.
On the second floor of the XLIS’ teaching building, there is a beautiful place called “Chinese Corridor”, where there are beautiful displays, spacious and bright Chinese classrooms, the cultured and refined Chinese teachers and the long-lasting Chinese atmosphere, this is the great temple to which students’ hearts and souls aspire, as well as the home direction of them. It is also a place where a Mandarin teacher like me can fully express myself. In the future, I hope students with different cultural backgrounds can be aroused to love Chinese and our traditional culture through innovative and funny learning approaches so that they can fully feel the charm of Chinese culture by reading and writing.
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Author: Nancy Jing (Head of Primary Chinese Language)