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Here are a list of things I would do when teaching Chinese characters:
1. To teach the students about the history of characters, I will give students envelops with cards of 8 characters as well as four styles of the 8 characters in different historical times. The students need to work in groups to sort out the evolvement of the 8 characters from the most ancient forms to their modern structures. At the end, they need to analyze the rules for the changes of forms in those characters. In addition, you can show your students the movie 三十六象形汉字 to help them understand how characters developed. The link to the movie is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q3OLF42Y4c.
2. The students will receive 20 characters along with their pronunciations and English meanings. Working as groups, they need to locate some common radicals as well as their meanings. This activity is designed to help the students understand the concept of radicals. You may also ask them to identify the common sound for some of the characters and the structures of characters.
3. Use things in the nature to teach characters, especially 独体字. Please visit http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150275491245207.508910.555660206&l=4219e3da8d&type=1 for my samples.
4. Use http://www.jiantizi.com/dic/hanzi.asp to study the stroke orders for characters.
5. Use http://www.hanlexon.org/index.htm to create character sheets, on-line flashcards and more. Personally I love this website and use it frequently as I have the freedom to create character tracing sheets quickly. It also displays the stroke orders and Pinyin automatically. It is free but donation is needed for sustaining it.
6. Integrate Chinese characters with art. Please see http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150274973275207.508542.555660206&l=5036c38519&type=1 for my students’ work.
7. Practice writing characters on the group using side-way chalks. After the characters are written, you can call out the words and the students need to jump onto the words as you read. You can make it a competition and ask the students to make a sentence using the words they land on.
8. Practice calligraphy.
9. Ask your students to make up stories for the characters they are learning. The extra effort they put into composing the stories will help them memorize the characters.
10. In class, let the students do some character writing in the air using their hands, with their eyes closed. They key is to use creative ways to give them more character writing practice. Please take a look at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150802302215207.735120.555660206&l=b2fa97d6af&type=1 for my samples.
11. http://www.studystack.com/, http://www.skritter.com/, http://quizlet.com/, http://www.studyblue.com/ and http://www.jigsawplanet.com/ are all good websites you can use to create vocabulary lists for the students, as well as jigsaw puzzles with characters.
Hope all the information above helps. In addition, you may visit my website http://csgchinese.wikispaces.com/ for more resources in teaching Chinese.
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