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Learn Chinese with Tasks: Implementing a Task Chain to Improve Integrated Language Skills – Part Two

In my last article, Implementing a Task Chain to Improve Integrated Language Skills Part One, I talked about how to design a task chain in your Chinese class, the tasks are mainly focused on exercising students’ receptive skills (reading and listening). This time in part two, I am going to introduce the tasks that you can practice students’ productive skills (speaking and writing).

Task 3: Guessing
Material: Handmade flashcards of vocabularies. (Word only)
Language skills: Reading/Speaking
Task description:

  1. Teacher pairs students with each other.
  2. Teacher asks each pair to stand in the front of the classroom by turn.
  3. Teacher shows a word to one student, and then s/he acts out for the other student to guess the word.
  4. Each student has to guess as many words as possible within one minute.

Task function: This task further solidifies students’ memory of the vocabulary. In addition, it aims at improving students’ reaction speed towards these new words. Although both task 2 and task 3 involve reading and speaking, task 3 emphasizes more on speaking (productive skills) while task 2 focuses more on reading (receptive skills). Therefore, this task also functions as a transition here.

 

Task 4: Find Someone Who
Material: A worksheet for every student (click to download)

Language skills: Reading/Listening/Speaking
Task description:

  1. Teacher hands out the worksheet and scaffolds students to use the sentence structure – “你喜欢XX吗”,“我喜欢XX”and “我不喜欢XX”.
  2. The goal of each student is to fill out the form by asking others “你喜欢XX吗”. If the answer is positive, they can write names within the corresponding grid.
  3. After students finish, teacher asks them to report their worksheet by saying “XX喜欢画画” etc.

Task Function: Since another goal of the lesson is the sentence structure “我喜欢XX” and its question and negative form, this task provides students with abundant practicing opportunities. This task is very communicative, and it requires students to be able to demonstrate both receptive and productive skills. To ensure the fluency of the task process, necessary language instruction is needed before asking the students to demonstrate the task. In addition, teachers can also provide pinyin on the worksheet based on students’ proficiency level.

 

Task 5: Making a Poster
Material: one worksheet and one poster paper for each student (click to download), several copies of each activity worksheet (click to download an example)

Language skills: Reading/Speaking/Writing

Task Description:

  1. Set several stations in the classroom. Cut off the pictures cards from the worksheet and place them in each station. Teacher asks students to pick up three cards they can do and three cards they like to do. When students finish, teacher takes away the cards that are left.
  2. Teacher then put word cards of activities in each station. Ask students to find the word cards that match their pictures.
  3. Students then use the picture and word cards to  make posters. If a student’s level is high enough, s/he can write characters on the poster instead of using the word cards. (In my students’ sample, you may also see they wrote a “打” between “我会” and “乒乓球”.)
  4. Students report to the whole class by using “我会xx”, “我喜欢xx” with target vocabulary.

Task Function: As a culminating task, it involves both receptive and productive language skills. It also functions as a review for the whole lesson. The task requires relatively high cognitive ability, so students can obtain a sense of achievement when they finish the poster. Here are two posters done by my students:

In conclusion, designing a task chain will require much time and effort. A lot of transitions, scaffolding, and language instruction are also necessary between each task. Nevertheless, implementing a task chain can certainly promote students’ integrated language skills and engagement in class. I hope there are more teachers sharing their design of task chain too.

 

 

  A Note from the Editor

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Feel free to respond to this post by posting examples from your classroom. Share to FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest and encourage your friends or colleagues to share other tasks they have designed!

Yang Luo

Yang Luo

Yang Luo is currently a teacher of Chinese immersion program at Asia Pacific Language School. Previously, She taught Chinese at Jubilee School in Philadelphia. She graduates from the TESOL (Teacher English to Speakers of Other Languages) program at the University of Pennsylvania. With her experience in teaching both Mandarin and ESL, she actively participated in novice language teacher training at the UPenn as a teaching assistant for the course TESOL Fieldwork. In addition to language teaching, she has gained cross-cultural experience as a receptionist for Mr. Tony Blair, the Former British Prime Minister, and his encourage in China. She also works as a journalist for 8th International Youth Camp with adolescents from 17 countries. Her multi-disciplinary background and cross-cultural experience have benefited and enriched her language classroom. Besides teaching, she loves traveling and experiencing different cultures.

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