Monday, October 10, 2005

Chinese Laoshi

We got a chance to be a Chinese teacher (Laoshi: laow-sure) for a day. That was fun, at least for us.

One of the teachers is away in Japan this week so Chui (Chew) asked us to teach Chinese measure words. Huh? Us? What do we know?

"If you teach it, you'll learn it."

He was right. I'm not sure how much the students got out of the class but we spent two hours preparing for it and we learned a lot.

Measure words are similar to our English measure words: flock of geese, heard of sheep, pack of wolves. The only difference is, the Chinese have many, many measure words. You have to use a measure word when you talk about a long skinny thing, such as a snake (she) or a river (he). [The 'e' is a 'eh' sound. LIke the 'ou' in could.] If you describe something flat, you have to use zhong.

Well, we went over all this stuff explaining what was in the notebook that the class already had in their hands. We just read it for them and tried to answer questions. Fortunately, Suzi and Chiu (the real teachers) were there to correct us.

But we still wanted to help them remember at least the nine measure words for the day. So Ruth wrote one of the measure words on a four-by-six card and I wrote a noun on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. Ruth and I drew a picture of the noun on the sheet. We distributed two measure words to each of the students and told them to raise the card when they thought it matched the noun I held up.

The funniest part was seeing them react to the silly hand-drawn pictures we had made. They especially like the two-legged sheep. (Yeah, it had issues.)

I don't know what they learned from all this, but at least we had a good time teaching.

Experience is the worst teacher, it gives the test before the lesson. -Vernon Law