Teacher Standards

Language Learning and Teaching- TS2d

TS2d- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching

During an enhancement seminar today, we had the opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese and gain an appreciation of the Chinese culture. We covered a range of topics at their base level, including greetings, numbers, and the Chinese zodiac signs. A range of activities were shared which I would consider teaching in relation to Chinese New Year Celebrations.

mandarin chinese 1-10


What provoked my thought the most was the way in which we were introduced to the number system; right from the start, we were presented with the written word alongside the number and the teacher spoke the number in Mandarin. Whilst this didn’t have much effect when the teacher spoke the word first and we repeated, it did cause problems for me when we were independently recalling the numbers as I found myself applying the English phonics system to the words (I have no prior understanding or knowledge of Mandarin Chinese) and consequently mispronouncing a large portion of the numbers. This reminded me of a commonly recurring question from my MFL Specialism sessions, “When is the right time to introduce the written language?”

Before today, I had been drawn mostly to the benefits of introducing the written form alongside new vocabulary as it can, in many languages, aid decoding and pronunciation. In my own experience of French for example, I can recall often being taught new vocabulary by first being presented with the written language. During my experience today however, I began to make an effort to try and ignore the written words as I was only confusing myself more and I think that this will be important for me to remember when teaching, particularly for languages which vary greatly from the English phonics.

In this experience, I feel that I would have benefited from longer time to practise the spoken language and cement/reinforce this before being introduced to the written as I was tempted to read the word whilst trying to remember the vocab but this led to confusion and poor pronunciation.


For the future

  • Consider the relationship between the Target Language and English- will the written word help or hinder children’s initial learning?
  • Be adaptable and flexible- be receptive to the needs of the class in relation to introducing the written language.
  • It may be necessary to allow time for reinforcing the spoken language before introducing the written
  • Consider giving children an overview of the phonic system of the TL, particularly those sounds which differ greatly from English and common sounds/silent letters (eg. in French, é, r, ons, th)

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