On the 19th of Sep 2014, Eric and I had our first lesson about Chinese Culture and Customs. The lesson took place within TAMK premises, if I am not mistaken I think it was at TALO B, in a classroom on the second floor. Eric is from Slovakia and I am from China. I was glad that I have this chance to deliver out the true image of China, spreading out the general knowledge of some Chinese customs. A lot of people know China, and whenever people hear about China, they immediately relate to KONG-FU and the Great-Wall. Nonetheless, needless to say, China has more things than merely KONG-FU and the Great-Wall. And I hope that after this one semester of teaching, Eric could know more about China and Chinese people.
It was agreed upon us that we learn more towards the cultural side of China rather than the linguistic part of Chinese as a language and I too, think this could be the best way to run our lessons, as it is indeed quite difficult to fully comprehend and utilize Chinese language in three-month-time.
I am comfortable to deliver my lessons with the aid of Power Point, for it better organizes my agenda of lesson and makes a lesson much more vivid than merely talking. For our very first lesson, We talked about a lot of things. I did a comparison in the difference of Chinese Traditional Wedding and Chinese Modern Wedding, What are the changes and what are the none-changeables. And Eric has also enlightened me with some Slovakia Wedding Customs which was of course intriguing and exotic to me ; )
furthermore, we moved on to the topic of Birthdays, how do Chinese people celebrate their birthdays? I introduced him with the concept of Birthday Noodles that eating noodles at birthday symbolically represents long life-span. The longer the noodle is, the longer the life will be. Eric was very much intrigued with this idea, and I was happy that he was enjoying this : )
after these two customs, we talked a little bit about Confucianism and Taoism. He actually knows a lot about these, since he’s been reading quite a lot, and I was quite surprised that he knew about Confucius even prior to our lesson. I used 3 videos on YouTube to further elaborate these two Chinese local beliefs, and showed him the autobiography of Confucius as well as basic philosophies in Confucianism. As for Taoism, it’s a belief of nature and harmony. I couldn’t talk about Taoism without talking about Feng-Shui. Feng-Shui originated from Taoism and it is a very interesting study. It’s about the idea of how the positioning of the furniture and fixtures in your home could actually affect your life. (Kindly refers to appendix for further details)
Though Eric doesn’t have a strong will to learn Chinese language, however, language is nevertheless always the key to a culture. I would still enclose some linguistic knowledge in every lesson. For this time, we learnt about numbering in Chinese from 1-10, both in writing and pronunciation. Eric was a fast learner. he could write Chinese number after 15 minutes of memorizing and he got 7 out of 10 correct. I joked him around that “you are born to speak Chinese!” … After numbering I showed him the ‘conjugation’ of Chinese characters and he commented that: “It’s such a magic that you Chinese ppl could all memorize thousands of those twisted characters..which doesn’t make any sense.” I don’t know I should feel happy or sad..
We also learnt how to greet people in Chinese. The simple phrase: ‘ Have you eaten?’ and also the cultural background of this phrase. Why do people ask “Have you eaten?’ rather than ‘How are you?’ when speaking Chinese.
For me, teaching Chinese Culture and Chinese language is both challenging and rewarding. The challenging part is that I need to deliver the ‘right’ information to my student and make sure the things I taught him is always correct and can be put into practice, such is the responsibility of being a teacher; I need to always plan ahead, listing in mind what are the things we are going to learn for a lesson and do the preparation beforehand. The rewarding part was that by teaching Eric Chinese stuff, at the same time I learnt some Slovakia stuff in return. We are mutually exchanging our cultural values and point-of-views. Of course, to me, the most rewarding part was that after 1.5 hours of lecturing, Eric told me “Your lesson is much more interesting than the basics of Finnish I had earlier!” This really put up a smile on me and also I feel what I am doing is worthy and meaningful!
I am a teacher, but most of the time I am also a learner. hearing from my student, getting renovated and inspired and most importantly, learning how to become a better teacher.