Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Authentic materials - Brochures

While I enjoy Jimmy Liao's 'Left Turn, Right Turn' very much and cannot wait to read the entire text with the guidance of my tutor, I am also eager to read messages transmitted in daily life that are written in Chinese.

Everytime I visit a food court, I am very keen to see if there are words that I am able to read off the signboard telling me the name of the stall and the food it serves. In restaurants, I study the menus but alas my comprehension of Chinese is really at a dismal level.

Another source of material that is rich in educational content for learners of Chinese like myself can be found in brochures that can be obtained in our nature reserves, parks, tourist information booths and at hotel lobbies. I am a collector of these brochures pertaining to my interest in nature, buildings and museums in Singapore and nowadays.

Some of these brochures contain text in three languages - English, Chinese and Malay. The one below is an example of such a brochure giving information on Labrador Nature Reserve.

I thought that the best way to learn characters that recur frequently across various text that one comes across daily would be to familiarise myself with these characters. In copying out the text of of a particular section of this brochure in Chinese, I realise that there are many repetitions of the same character and that helps me in remembering the way they look. This Saturday, I would like to ask my tutor to read and explain what I have copied. And then I will move on to another brochure to see if some of those characters appear again. I am sure they do!

Learning a language is not like learning or Geography. For that matter even these subjects could be learned and enjoyed at the same time outside of a school curriculum. What with the excellent documentaries on cable TV especially National Geographics and the History Channel and the internet, how could these subjects ever be boring?

It is the same with the learning of Chinese. I find that this is so probably because I am a self-directed learner in the true sense of the term and my tutor is the facilitator who steers me in the right direction and is a valuable resource to me. So to summarise my learning resources, I have the following list:

  1. Emil Chao's songs
  2. Jimmy Liao's stories
  3. Brochures, advertisments, signboards, restaurant menus ad infinitum

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