Jan. 12, 2018 -- Learning the Chinese language characters is very different from learning English letters and words, yet both are the foundation to reading and writing.
In Shu Hui Lin's Heights High Chinese language classes, students learn to recognize Chinese characters as they progress through the program.
Chinese is a pictographic language. As strokes are added or repositioned in the character, the meaning of the character changes. For example, the character for tree and the character for forest is below. The characters resemble trees and a forest is several trees.
The characters each tell a story and ‘reading’ the characters is not a phonics exercise where students ‘sound out’ the word but rather students learn the basic characters.
Then students build on their knowledge and learn more complex characters.
To learn to recognize the characters, Dr. Lin arranges several special activities for students.
In September, students attended the Confucius Institute’s Teacher Appreciation Day at Cleveland State University. The event included sessions for students and teachers from 24 schools.
One of the highlights for the Heights High students was the Workshop and Demo session where each school hosted a table with an activity related to Chinese language or culture.
“We hosted a table called The Beauty of Chinese Characters,” said Dr. Lin. “The students prepared four activities to share with other students and teachers.”
The demonstrations presented by the Heights students were: Chinese Character Art, Character Bracelets made of folded paper, Chinese character paper cutting and Calligraphy.
“The students demonstrated their Chinese proficiency and reinforced their skills. They worked in groups and showed leadership, collaboration and public communication,” continued Dr. Lin. “They also enjoyed visiting other school’s demonstrations.”
Sophomore Abra Lisowski is in the Chinese 3 Honors class and was a member of the Heights team.
“Participating in the project helped me better understanding how some characters look a lot like what their subject is,” she said.
Sophomore Ava Collyer creats brcelets at the demonstration table.
“It was a good way to connect with other students who are learning the same things.”
Following the Confucius Institute’s fall event, the class continues the Beauty of Chinese Characters theme with a Chinese Dragon Word Wall. Students post the characters, words and phrases they have mastered on the dragon.
The next important event for the Chinese classes is the Chinese New Year Celebration, February 22, 3:00 - 3:45 p.m. in the mini-auditorium. The students will perform for parents, students and staff.
Programs coming later this year include Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK&HSKK)-Hanban, Ohio K-12 Chinese Speech and Essay Contests, Cleveland international film festival and scholarship opportunities to China this summer.