Interesting Integration: Mandarin Students Learn through Teaching

Tara Williams, Opinion Section Editor

This year, the Chinese II class is combined with the Chinese I class. This integrated class is due to alterations in Chinese Teacher Hongling Zhang’s schedule. Although on its face this class combination is different, the integrated course offers many teaching and learning opportunities.


Ms. Zhang’s change in schedule was partly due to her daily trip between Wydown Middle School and CHS. Other CHS teacher’s also partake in this stressful commute, including Latin teacher Stephen Meyer and Spanish teacher Micah Johnson.


Although Zhang has initially found the tighter transition between WMS and CHS difficult, she believes that “things get better once you develop a pattern and a rhythm.”


Zhang has found that the combined class offers many advantages for the students. “The Chinese II students can review and reinforce what they learned before, and the Chinese I students can get help from their more advanced classmates,” Zhang said.


Freshman Lian Anderson, a Level II student from the class, finds the class interesting. She said, “[the integrated class] is a little strange, but I am enjoying helping the Level I students and having conversations with my Level II peers. I am excited to see what is in store this year.”


The drawbacks of the integrated class for a student include less instructional and practice time with the teacher. The students in one level will work on worksheets and handouts while the other group is being instructed.


The levels will have about the same instructional time for each class period: about 20-25 minutes. Although the instructional time for the students has been condensed, Zhang has found the students to be very understanding and self-sufficient.


The disadvantages of a integrated course, though significant, may be compensated through instruction and learning between the intermediate level speakers and the students who have just began to speak Mandarin.


Zhang suggests, for instance, that students in both Chinese I and II will “work on a project together with the same theme but different rubrics.”


The students in the integrated Chinese I and II class this year will have a unique learning through teaching experience that will be beneficial in their study of Mandarin.