ESA approach: engage, study and activate

T: Today is our first lession about Chinese character. Do you know how Chinese characters look like at the very beginning?

S: It comes from drawings and picutrus.

T: Good. In the old times, people have to draw to explain their meanings, like the sun, the moon and mountains. So, the longer sentences they want to say, the more complicated picutres they need to draw. However, it’s not easy to explain very thing in pictures so people modified pictures to words, which means…

S: If you want to remeber a word, you can think about how it looks like.

T: Very good. This rule can’t cover all the Chinese characters, but I can say 80% are following the rule. I’m going to show you a short clip now, please make some notes while you are watching, because I’ll ask you to write down these words later, not all of them, but most of them. Don’t worry. Even if you don’t know how to read them, I’m sure you can manage to write them. (play the clip: story of mu, about 3:09 min)



T: Is it interesting?

S: Yes, it is.

T: It’s not that hard, isn’t it? Did you make any notes? Do you need to watch it again?

S: No.

T: Ok, here is the Questions sheet, let’s see how many words you remember. (give out the question sheet to the student)



T: Most of them are correct except the “jungle” one.

S: How come? I remember there are three “mu” altogher.

T: Yes. There are 3 “mu” but only 1 at the top and 2 are at the bottom. Principle one, Chinese characters are like buildings. The top part is smaller than the bottom to make the word look like in balance. I didn’t expect you can remember the last three but did. However, you were hesitated when you wrote “to burn”, why?

S: I din’t learn the word “fire” so I recall the word by the picutre.

T: Here is the thing I want you to know. (write “mu” on the grid sheet) Alought the original meaning of this word is “tree”, now it is most likely to be used as “wood”.

T: So far we know how to read a word. Now let’s have a look, how these words are structured. There are 3 basic structures used in Chinese character: up-down structure, left-right structure and inside-outside sturcture.

S: What does this mean?

T: Some words stand alone, like “mu”, “ren”, but most words are structed by at least two parts.

Lin 1this is left-right structure.

senCan you tell me what structure is it?

S: It’s an up-down structure.

T: Now let’s have a look at the words you writtten before the class. Did you these structures?

WP_20140420_15_47_58_ProS: Yes, I see. Espcailly the inside-outside one.

T: Structure is important, not only for the meaning of the words but the way to write as well. Here is the grid sheet, or we call it field sheet. A character should be written in the box no matter how it is structured. When you write a word, you need to put it in balance.

wrong lin

T: Keep this sheet with you. From now on, pracite your writing on these sheets. (give student the grid sheet)


T: Principle 2: you need to keep a word in the center of the box and all the part should be placed in balance, not too loose or too close.



T: Now, let’s move on the today’s words: numbers 1-10. Obvisouly, you remember 1, 2,3, and 8, the eaisest ones. Now I’m going to write down the rest. Name a word if you can recognize it. (write down 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 and clarify them with the student).



T: Very Good. Now let’s try something bigger. Can you write 61 for me? Can you write 54? Can you write 97? … Now please write down your age and your telephone number. You can use o as 0.

S: I want to learn how to write 0.

T: Ok.



T: So, now you know all the numbers and people. Do you know how to say 1 person?

S: Yes, I do.

T: In Chinese, very noun gets a measure word, no matter it is a coutable or uncountable word. “ge” is the measure word for “ren”. So now can you write 6 people?

S: Ok.


T: Well, let’s stop here and look back what we’ve learnd today. Can you tell me what you learned about Chinese character? So far, how many words do you remember?

S: Eh… you need to write a word from top to bottom or from left to right. A word should be placed in the center of a box. I remember “jungle”, “forest”, “fire”, “to burn”, “to rest”.

T: How many structures you know?

S: 3 of them.

T: Now tell me 2 words or phrases you want to learn. We can put them in your homework as well.

S: wealth(fu you) and money (qian).

T: No problem. Here is your homework. Practice them in the grid sheet and I’ll see you next time.