Home Page for Class 3B (Year 2008-09)

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(posted on 10/23/2008)

Get Your Computer to Write Chinese

Dear all of 3B,

I've been teaching Chinese for over a year now, and as a teacher I've learned quite a lot. One of my biggest discoveries is the joy (if one may call it that) of typing Chinese characters on computers. It has unlocked a very big door for me. Everyone who knows Chinese knows that the pictographs are easy to read but hard to write. I learned my Chinese three decades ago. But even with serious neglect (not doing any reading or writing for years), I have perfect reading comprehension -- because a brain recognizes what it had seen. On the other hand, if someone were to ask me to hand-write in Chinese... It would be like pulling teeth. Uh, what's on the left side of the character? In the olden days, I would have had to open up my trusty Chinese dictionary, flip to the back of the dictionary where all the characters are grouped by homonyms ordered according to their Zhuin symbols, and scan down one by one until I see the character that I know is the one I want. Very very tedious. It is not much of a wonder that as time went on, the number of Chinese letters I wrote went down. And I know that I am not the only one. Just about everybody I know, even the experts of Chinese, would sometimes have to scratch their heads before writing a character.

That has all changed as a result of my discovery of being able to type Chinese on my computer. All I have to do is from any platform (Gmail account, notepads, MS Word, you name it), hit Alt-Shift a couple of times until my computer switches to the Chinese (Taiwan) mode, type away in pinyin, and pick out the characters from all those homonyms. Homonyms are words that have same sound but different spelling. Chinese is full of homonyms because each character is exactly one syllable. So as a result of learning pinyin and setting my computer to be able to enter Chinese mode, I can now fire away emails and effortlessly produce Powerpoint slides and type up homework assignments -- all in Chinese.

And I want you to share that new freedom. (That sounds like a political sales pitch.) Of course, you still have to learn the grammar and the characters. This is one of the biggest reason why I wanted the 3B students to use IQchinese products. Another reason is because AP Chinese (advanced placement tests in high schools) are administered only through computer typing (so I've heard).

First, you must set the Windows up for handling Chinese. Read and follow the directions on http://newton.uor.edu/ Departments&Programs/ AsianStudiesDept/Language/ index.html.

It is enough to start typing Chinese with the basic Windows set up. There is a language bar on the bottom right of your screen. It is normally EN for English. Hit Alt-shift several times until it says CH for Chinese.

I know that I had asked you to try installing Natural Chinese Input V8 on your PC and have not heard any success stories. If you haven't tried it yet, please do. If you haven't done it, please do give it a try. After you've installed Natural Chinese Input, it is available whenever you change the language from EN ro CH.

Here is another option: Try IQchinese's RUN. Read the product description on http://www.iqchinese.com/ store/Scripts/prodView.asp? idproduct=28. A 14-day free trial of RUN is available at the bottom of http://www.iqchinese.com/free% 20download.htm. The program is on sale for $20 (not $60) and is available until mid November. (I wish that they would just make it $20 for all times. I frankly am not crazy about this software-sale business.) It is very similar to Natural Chinese Input. Open up a text editing software like MS Word and hit Alt-shift to get to CH mode and type away.

By the way, we use only Hanyu Pinyin in our class.



(posted on 09/15/2008)

The CD-ROMs from IQChinese (Go100 through Go400) are here. Each set (good for one PC) is $52.




(Posted on 09/05/2008)

Welcome back to school! I am very pleased to be able to have all my students from 2B back.

First of all, this is our current version of the syllabus. syllabus 3B 2008-09

The main news of the day is that Chinese School of Delaware has officially adopted E-Pen Chinese series for the B-track classes, and our class has been assigned Level 3 for the backbone of our language studies. In addition, we will also start with IQchinese's Go100 to cement (as well as to fill in the gaps) of all the basic hanzi and vocabulary that we have or should have had encountered. How fast we march through Go100 through Go800 will all depend on our students' pace and desire. This is the reason why there is nothing specific in the syllabus for how we will plow through the IQchinese Go series.

We also have an exciting set of culture classes provided to us from the school. These include the Chinese Abacus, Chinese Musical Instruments, and Chinese Chess, and (yes!) cooking! While we will not learn any of them in depth, we will be delving into the game of Mahjongg. Thanks to Mary Lai, our homeroom mom, we will be playing this popular game often and hope to get good at it. Stay tuned!

Because the students are no longer spoon-fed preschoolers, there will be an expectation for them to take on projects to "teach" each other. I will provide a list of topics relevant to the greater Chinese culture (not specific to any geopolitical borders) and ask the students to pick something that they can research and present to the class. Formats can be a show-n-tell, a diorama, a puppet show (in English if you prefer), a cartoon, etc.

On Sunday 09/07, each of you will be given a copy of the E-Pen Chinese Level 3 textbook and workbooks A and B. I have also ordered Go100-400 for each of you but they will not arrive until the week after 09/07. The E-Pen books will cost each student around $10. The IQchinese Go100-400 are $52 per family. (That's a way better deal than what I paid for last spring!)

One of the important discussion going on at this time is whether our class will go to Longwood Gardens on 11/2/08 to see the U Theatre Performance.
Where: Longwood's Open Air Theatre
When: Sunday, Nov. 2 , at 3 p.m.
Contents: Drumming, martial arts, meditation, Tai-Chi, drama, dance, and music
How long: 1 hour of performance, 20 minutes for demo and lecture
Tickets: Student (ages 2-18) is $15; adult is $25; Senior (Age 63+) is $23; Garden Passholder Adult: $20. All tickets include Gardens admission and seating for this performance.
For more information about this coming event, please click on www.hanlincca.org.
I would also strongly advise you to look at some of their past performances on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=lzWRK715R34&feature=related
Anyway, your input to the appropriateness of our class to go to this event is appreciated. Our class as a whole needs to decide for ourselves whether we go see this or not.

See you all soon! And please check back on this page at least once a week.

Liu Laoshi