Spring Grass: A “Performed Culture” Approach to Advanced Mandarin
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Spring Grass: A “Performed Culture” Approach to Advanced Mandarin is a set of advanced Chinese learning materials based on Chinese writer Qiu Shanshan’s novel Spring Grass and a 33-episode TV series of the same name, which aims to improve learners’ oral and written communication skills.
There are 28 units in this textbook, and each unit has 5 sections, including listening, speaking, reading, writing in various languages and cultural activities. This design is mainly aimed at an advanced Chinese course of about 30 weeks in a school year, with 5 sections in a unit for 5 class hours.
The first 14 units of study focus on listening and speaking, with an emphasis on developing students’ oral narrative skills. Teaching materials are mainly based on TV dramas, supplemented by novels. The focus of the last 14 units gradually changes from spoken to written language. Novel is the main source for students to obtain the plot of the story. Reading ability and written narrative ability are the focuses of this stage.
The five sections in each unit correspond to five learning sessions, including: (1) questions and answers between the teacher and students for TV drama plots or novel chapters; (2) retelling activities based on story plots from the perspective of different characters; (3) in-depth discussions of literary techniques used in the novel and other topics; (4) discussions of cultural topics led by students; (5) writing tasks in different literary styles.
In addition, in the last 14 units which focus on developing students’ written narrative skills, the textbook also adds the sixth activity: adaptation and performance of the television version of Spring Grass. Through these well-designed teaching activities, this textbook aims to help learners to continuously optimize the learning process and master the learning strategies for reading the original Chinese novels.
About the Author
Zeng Zhini, Assistant Professor, Department of Modern Languages, University of Mississippi. She majored in Chinese as a Foreign Language at Shanghai International Studies University as an undergraduate. After graduating, she went to the United States to study under Wu Weike, Professor of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature of Ohio State University. She obtained master’s and doctoral degrees in 2011 and 2015, respectively. Her research interests include: training and assessment of Chinese language professional skills, cross-cultural research in the “third space”, development of advanced Chinese language textbooks, curriculum development of study abroad programs in China, and discourse analysis. She has rich practical experience in teaching. When she taught at Ohio State University and University of Michigan, she developed many advanced Chinese courses for undergraduates like Chinese media courses, modern Chinese literature, ancient Chinese, and Sino-American interpersonal relationships. She was a training officer for the Teaching Training Institute of Chinese and Japanese language at ALLEX in the United States, and was the resident director of a number of overseas study programs in China, including the Critical Language Scholarship Program of State Department (2014), the Chinese Flagship Program of Ohio State University (2009-2013) , and Project GO officer program in the United States (2016-2018). She participated in the design of program curriculum, development of teaching material, and training of local Chinese teachers in China. She is also an Examiner of the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) certified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), and actively provides professional assessments of oral Chinese proficiency to Chinese learners in the industry.