Resource Review: Discover China

Tags: Review
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Resource Title:  Discover China Book 1

Publisher: Macmillan Publishing China 

Cost:  Textbook £29.95. Workbooks £17.50 each.

Available from:  UK:  CME Books Europe

Review Profile:  My name is Jodie Gardiner and I am a PGCE qualified secondary Mandarin teacher. Mandarin is a new subject in my school,  Kenilworth School and Sports College this year. I am enjoying the rewards and challenges of introducing Mandarin in the school for the first time and also of being a Newly Qualified Teacher!

Description:  Discover China is a four-level Mandarin Chinese course, specially designed for beginner and low-intermediate level students. It employs a communicative and integrated approach to language learning. Emphasis is placed on communication in real contexts through pair work, group work and a variety of independent and integrated activities to help students become confident Chinese language speakers.

A communicative approach and real-life contexts provide learners with the tools they need to communicate naturally in Chinese. Structured and effective design, with activities moving from controlled practice to personalized tasks, facilitates effective learning. Student-centred 'inductive' grammar learning, supplemented with detailed grammar reference, goes beyond the traditional teacher-centred grammar class.

Discover China uses meaningful and integrated character writing practice through grouping characters with common radicals-these high frequency characters are presented within the context of the unit theme. Insights into Chinese culture, through the 'Cultural Corner' sections linked to the unit topics, promote a deeper understanding of this remarkable country and its language, while full-colour photos throughout the book illustrate this cultural context.

The course includes:

•             Student's Books

•             Workbooks

•             Teacher's Books

•             Audio CDs

•             Online support resources

To learn more about Discover China, please visit the course’s dedicated website, www.mydiscoverchina.com

Reviewer Profile:I am a non-native Mandarin teacher who had recently completed a PGCE and am now qualified to teach.   Mandarin is a new subject in my school this year and I am enjoying the rewards and challenges of introducing Mandarin in the school for the first time.  I teach at Kenilworth School and Sports College in Warwickshire, UK

Things I liked about the resource:  The textbook is very well presented and well organised. The chapters progress in a logical way, allowing learners to build their vocabulary and practice the language they have previously learnt.  The vocabulary lists are clear and the grammar section provides accessible explanations.

The book uses real life situations very effectively and language is introduced and practiced in interesting, practical ways, such as text messages, timetables and instant messenger conversations.

There is a good range of activities within each chapter. The use of colourful photographs makes the book attractive and also aids cultural understanding. The ‘Chinese to go’ boxes, which provide useful phrases and authentic, colloquial language, are also a great addition to the core language in each unit.  Overall, this is a very relevant, engaging and motivating resource for students to work with.

How could the resource be improved? The textbook uses pinyin alongside characters throughout, which can be a disadvantage when trying to encourage students to recognise and read characters as they tend to rely on the pinyin.  However, it does enable them to access a wider range of vocabulary and texts early on which helps to build confidence.

Why and how did I use this resource? I used this resource with my Y12 class (12th Grade)  as it is aimed at young adult learners who are learning Chinese at beginner’s level.  The content is relevant to them and useful in situations in which they may use their Chinese in the future. I found the listening activities and dialogues on the CD particularly useful as they were pitched at an appropriate level and they increased the students’ confidence in their listening skills. It also provided good opportunities to extend vocabulary around a particular topic and put Chinese language into context.

Why may others use this resource?  Others who are looking for a resource aimed at students learning Chinese at beginner level in sixth forms or colleges (11th or 12th Grade).  It would also be suitable for adult learners. I would recommend it for teachers looking for a resource that has a strong focus on using language in real life situations.

Conclusions / other comments  Overall, a relevant, engaging resource which makes effective use of real life contexts to motivate learners and provides a good variety of activities to practice new language.