Tagged: chinese

感谢左手 2012

I’m so impressed and amused by my Primary 6 boys’ video adaptation of a textbook passage. I don’t think I can produce it myself 🙂

Ironically, a few parents told me NOT to assign online work to their children. Perhaps I should show them this video next time. Their kids are really doing amazing stuff 😉

First impressions of Creative PlayChinese

Being a geek I’m always keen to lay my hands on gadgets. The recently launched Creative PlayChinese ZiiO Shenbi Tablet is my latest tech purchase.

It’s actually ZiiO 7 inch tablet preinstalled with Chinese apps and repackaged as a ‘fun tool to PlayChinese‘. My first impression of the gadget itself is quite positive. The capacitive screen is very responsive and the 4 styli bundled are pretty decent. This is my first Android device and I’m quite impressed with it. The Shenbi app is essentially a Chinese character writing app which features a scoring system. The more characters you write, the higher your score is. It also has features like pronunciation of the characters and dictionary. I certainly hope they will update the app with more functions like searching characters using 汉语拼音 in the near future.

Updates: The recent software update of Shenbi has included 汉语拼音 search. It’s a great feature especially when I have any character in mind I wish to practice. That means I can easily search for any character with the Chinese language syllabus.

My first impression of the PlayChinese pedagogy is mixed bag. Creative CEO Mr Sim Wong Hoo completely eliminated the ‘learn’ part of language mastery and decided to go all out to play it. Play-based learning is great. We all know kids are always engaged when they are playing. However, to remove ‘learning’ in the process of language acquisition makes little pedagogical sense. Ironically Mr Sim calls PlayChinese a pedagogy. In my humble opinion it’s more like a marketing gimmick. Sadly, Creative’s weakest link has always been her marketing.

Another big downside of PlayChinese is the weak integration with MOE Chinese language curriculum. Mr Sim did not promise PlayChinese will improve test scores as its main learning outcome is to let kids learn master Chinese in a fun way. To me, fun might not last long when the activity is not purposeful and satisfying. Hence I’m not sure the fun of this high tech drill and practice of character writing activity will be able to sustain in the long run without complementing what the kids learn in school.

Nevertheless I am very excited to try out this gadget with some of my weaker Primary 3 pupils. I plan to let them use the tablet to practice a few characters in before the Spelling test. I will update again after the mini experiment is done 🙂

How about radical overhaul to assessment?

From Channel NewsAsia:

MOE hints no radical overhaul to teaching of Mother Tongue languages

…the Director-General of Education, Ho Peng, hinted there won’t be a radical overhaul to the teaching and learning. Instead, it will build on the strengths of what’s in place…

…And one thing is clear – infocomm technology (ICT) will play an increasingly larger role in the teaching and learning of Mother Tongue languages.

“You’re talking about digital natives. Children in fact connect very readily and easily with ICT. So I think in terms of teaching and learning in the classroom, we really need to use ICT in order to engage the next generation,” said Ho…


  1. Will there be a radical overhaul in assessment? Frankly, as long as it moves slightly away from standardized testing, it will be considered a radical overhaul. 😀
  2. Not just MTL, ICT will play continue to play an increasingly bigger role in all subject areas.
  3. We have been talking a lot about using ICT for teaching and learning. Time to look at using ICT for assessment.

New Interactive Learning Trail in Chinatown Makes Learning of Chinese Language and Heritage Engaging for our Students

From MOE Press Releases:

A new wireless interactive learning trail at Chinatown will offer students a fun, authentic way to learn about Chinese Language and culture. Through the use of specially programmed mobile phones, students can participate in activities at seven designated wireless-enabled hotspots along the trail to learn more about Chinatown’s heritage.

Looks like a great learning trail using mobile devices. However it’s only for secondary school students.

Update: Channel News Asia report

Using ICT in Chinese language teaching improves results

From xin.sg:


Research shows using ICT in Chinese language teaching can help students from English speaking families to achieve better results in Chinese language. In fact it should apply to all students 😉

Mobile phones are featured, though the report mentioned mobile phones only have Internet access and no voice calls and SMS. Not really leveraging on the computing power of mobile phones if you ask me.

Review of Teaching of Mother Tongue Languages

From Minister Speech in the 12th Principals’ Appointment Ceremony:

Here’s are excerpts of the speech touching on upcoming changes in Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) teaching:

“…today, nearly 6 in 10 Primary 1 Chinese students come from households where English is the dominant home language, compared to 1 in 10 in 1982. For Indians it has increased from 3 in 10 to 6 in 10; Malays—0.5 in 10 to 3.5 in 10. For MTL, we cannot expect the same outcomes or teach the same way as we have before, when the speaking environment in homes today, indeed in society, is radically different compared to that 20 years ago, or even a decade ago.”

“…a review to make the teaching of CL more engaging and useful, to keep pace with our changing language environment. Basically, we will need more and differentiated approaches to cater to students with a wider band of language abilities and home backgrounds.”

“…we will have to re-calibrate our expectations and teaching methods to keep CL alive and useful for them. Our aim is to emphasise and teach CL for students as a live language they can use, in the modes which they are likely to use. We will have to update our curriculum, teaching methods and even tests to keep in tandem with changes in our society. We do want to make the learning of CL more engaging and fun, but students will still have to make the effort to learn CL.”

“…we will continue the emphasis in speaking and listening, to make the learning of CL more relevant and useful for students…We will increase further the oracy component but details will be announced in due course, with adequate time for students to prepare well. Third, we will use more info-communications technologies platforms to help students learn and write the language. ICT tools are widely available and indeed what people use through emails or SMS-es to communicate in daily life and work.”

“…As with all subjects, we must align teaching methods, curriculum and testing formats to achieve the right outcomes for CL…we are interested in these other systems as they are more tailored for students with home language environments that approximate a growing segment of our students. Their end points have a different emphasis—less focused on writing components but more targeted to help students use the language and build confidence progressively—a goal we share.”

“…We are likely to evolve our own model, by integrating the most appropriate features we find in good teaching systems around the world.”

“…These changes re-affirm our bilingual policy. We are responding decisively to on-going trends and preparing our students for their future. We will not get stuck in any mental mould or system even when they have become less effective or relevant in changed circumstances. Instead, we must remain open to new ideas, methods and tools that are available to more effectively help all our students with different abilities learn CL. We want to engage all our students, help them become proficient in using the language—to converse and read in everyday contexts.”

“…The upcoming changes will require some re-training, but these changes will be introduced over time, to minimise disruptions. I want to commend our CL teachers who have responded positively in the past to change. They recognised the need to adapt to changing circumstances with the interests of our students at heart.”

This is one of the most important speeches delivered by Minister about Mother Tongue (Chinese) language teaching. Exciting times ahead 😉

Technology has made it a totally different experience for a person to read, learn and work with the Chinese language

From Channel News Asia:

Technology has also made it a totally different experience for a person to read, learn and work with the Chinese language.

Mr Lee (Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong) said: “In China now, everybody uses computer inputs one way or other. The young people are working on keyboards so much that when they have to write the characters, they do not remember how to produce them.”

Communication styles too are changing, with more people using email and SMS.

Prime Minister Lee said: “There are all sorts of strange abbreviations. I was exchanging messages with a young person in Chinese and the person typed ‘3488’. So I asked, what on earth is ‘3488’ (‘暂时拜拜’)?

“There are all sorts of other abbreviations and synonyms which have become part of the lingo. If you stick to the traditional formal language teaching, you are not going to teach people that, you are not going to use that, and students are going to learn a very formal language. But that is not what they will often encounter in real life.”

Mr Lee said testing methods will also need to change.

“So, in an exam, you can bring an electronic dictionary along and ideally, everybody should have a keyboard and should type and write on the keyboard rather than have the burden of struggling with the mechanics of memorising and writing characters by hand,” he said.


My reflections:

1. Yes. Technology has changed it all. The challenge now is to use technology to teach and learn Chinese language effectively.

2. Email and SMS are two huge communication tools. That brings us to highly debated use of mobile phones/devices for learning in classrooms again. We must not forget the other 2 big communication tools – Instant Messaging (IM) and SNS (Social Networking Sites).

3. Does that mean we can look forward to alternative assessment with the use of computers in Chinese language tests and examinations?

Hanyu pinyin and technology

From Lianhe Zaobao:


Highlighted text (translated):

In this era of technology, Hanyu pinyin becomes an important tool for Chinese inputting. My wife, son, daughter and I use Hanyu pinyin to input Chinese. My father who started learning how to use a computer, tried several inputting methods and chosed Hanyu pinyin although he is not familiar with it. Majority of my friends and colleagues also use Hanyu pinyin.

Voicethread Chinese character support goes live!


We are pleased to announce that we’ve added support for more languages when text
commenting, one of our most requested features. Text commenting now supports the Latin,
Cyrillic, Arabic and Hebrew scripts. We’ll be also adding support for Asian languages soon.
Please keep the great feedback coming in and enjoy!


Thanks for the great news, Habib! Now I can get my pupils to text comment in Chinese in Voicethread. Can’t wait! 😀