Mini Course: Play "Go Fish" in Chinese


Instructional Problem: Communitcative method vs. Pinyin method

Most of the learners starts learning Chinese with Pinyin. Teachers and students spend a lot of time drill on pinyin before starting conversations. The common belief is that pinyin will accelarate learning and improve pronunciations and tones. However, pinyin is not Mandarin, the target language. It was not created for foreigners to learn Chinese or Mandarin, but for native Chinese speakers to symbolize or mark pronunciations. Although it adopts letters in English, it doesn't corespond to English pronunciations perfectly. Such differences actually prevent many English speakers to pronunce Mandarin correctly. Many students tend to rely too much on pinyin and reluctant to learn characters, which is the written media of Chinese.

The communicative method argues that students learn better within meaningful contexts. It believes that students can conmunicate before they know linguistic elements of the target languages. In other words, students can communicate in Mandarin without learning Pinyin.

This unit is designed based on the communicative method. It doesn't talk about any linguistic terms, such as verbs, nouns, subjects, objects, tones, initials, vowels, or medials. Instead, students learn real language which they can use to accomplish communicative tasks in real life. All the PowerPoints and worksheets show characters only, because that's what Chinese people write and what we want students be able to read. Such an approach forces students to pay more attentions to listening, recognizing and distinguishing pronunciations, without "pinyin" in sight to interfere. After they have listened more and spoken more, in later units we will introduce Pinyin as a supplymentary tool. We will compare their notes of pronunciations with Pinyin, discuss the differences between "pronunciations" and "phonetic symbols", what Pinyin really is, and how to use Pinyin in Chinese learning.

Objectives of the Unit

  • Students will be able to count 1 to 10 in Chinese
  • Students will be able to recognize 1-10 in Chinese characters in random order.
  • Students will be able to write 1-10 in Chinese characters in correct stroke order.
  • Students will be able to tell the basic 3 principles of stroke orders.
  • Students will be able to ask if their partner has a particular number or not proplerly in Chinese.
  • Students will be able to express and respond to gratitude proplerly in Chinese.
  • Students will be able to apologize and to reply properly in Chinese.
  • Students will be able to play one card game in Chinese.


  • Formative:
    • Interpretive: Game: Pull the Blanket.
    • Presentational: Each student will say and write at least 3 phone numbers important to her:
      • School office
      • Teacher's cell phone or office phone
      • Student's home phone or cell phone.
  • Summative:
    • Interpersonal: Play Go Fish in Chinese.

Instructional Sequence

To Main page of the Unit: Mini_Course:_Play_"Go_Fish"_in_Chinese.

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