LAM, Sun: The building of a systematic knowledge of the Chinese characters and the enhancement for text reading habits for CFL beginners – some experiences
Due to the particular nature of the Chinese characters – its lack of phonetic access, its tendency for visualised semantics, its categorization logic of knowledge of the world reflected in the lexicography as well as its relative autonomy for acquisition in relation to the audio-lingual process, the pedagogic design of the TCFL task in an university graduate course – especially in the very beginning - is extremely important. How should we successfully combine the functionality of the written language in daily communication with an introduction to the general knowledge of the Chinese writing system? The first method alone does not reflect the inner-logic of the system, which can serve as a “Net of mnemonic reference”, and the second method is too theoretic and not practical.
The first 4-year degree course in Modern Chinese in Portugal at Minho University aims to give the teaching of the Chinese characters a maximum autonomy, in parallel to the teaching of other language skills. In order to cultivate both learning by rational knowledge of etymology and categorical organization of the Chinese characters and learning by intuitive perception (the appearance of characters provided by communicational need and their knowledge by use), we synchronize these two aspects of acquisition through a distribution of the time: 40% to the former and 60% to the latter for the Intensive Reading (discipline for basic vocabulary and grammar), with a systematic explanation of the characters and a frequent presentation of small texts of a slightly shifted level, with the objective of stimulating the students for the habit of using their linguistic, ethymographical and cultural knowledge from the beginning of their learning.
This paper intends to show some methods for this practice and its results.
We also expect to raise the following question: does acquisition by rational knowledge lixing xuexi 理性学习involve the use of the CFL learner’s mother tongue, while the acquisition by intuitive perception ganxing xuexi 感性学习depends more on the use of the target language? If it is the case, how could we, teachers of CFL with the students’ mother tongue, complement the work of our colleagues from China who do not master our mother tongue? And even in a larger scale, how should we target the task of CFL teaching in Europe and in China within a Degree Course?