Saturday, 27 May 2017

More Chinese Woes and Thoughts about Assessment

During a recent meet-the-parents session, J's Chinese teacher, who is also his form teacher, asked us how we felt about J's results and what we were going to do about it. She said that if he could perform well in a difficult subject like mathematics, he could surely do well in Chinese. All it takes is reading more. She went on to say that no one can help him except himself and that he needs to work hard.

Perhaps J has not been studying smart, but he is certainly working hard. Even last week after exams were over, he took his 4B Chinese textbook out and asked if I could go through one of the passages with him. His teacher had gone through the passage in class that day and he still could not understand what it was about. I thought that attitude was applaudable. Exams were over and he initiated learning. We went through the passage together and I found it was true that he did not understand most of the phrases. He patiently wrote down the meanings of words he did not know and tried to make sense of sentences after knowing meanings of some phrases.

J spends at least four afternoons a week learning 听写. Every week, his preparation method is the same. He learns five phrases a day and by the day before the 听写, he will have learnt all the phrases and memorised the sentences for 默写. Sometimes, he forgets the words he has learnt the very next day and starts learning from scratch. On good days, he scores 90 plus. On not so good days, he gets 70 plus. There are times he writes all the words correctly at home but blanks out when he is in school.

J's Chinese teacher also asked if J reads his textbook, Chinese storybooks or ebooks from dudutown. Actually, he has. Not every day, but whenever possible - if there is still time after all the tingxie rituals and school activities. He does not understand most things from dudutown and I realised that from his marks in the comprehension test after each story. His teacher suggested that if he keeps reading, he will eventually understand the meaning.

Personally, I have struggled over some subjects as a student, even though I easily obtained As in others. Even when I was pursuing a Master degree in Statistics, I scored A and A- in a number of modules while I just could not understand Generalised Linear Models for the life of me. I diligently pored through the textbook but I just could not comprehend anything no matter how many times I read. I can understand how J feels in his learning of Chinese and will try to encourage him to persevere in this arduous journey. Lyndon has found some strategies to help him too and J has been very willing to oblige his papa.

Before I close, I was envious to read ST's feature on the Finnish education system (Finn and Fun) a few days ago. This was an excerpt from the article:

School assessments are not forgiving towards mistakes like:

For me, I am contented as long as I can see understanding. Comprehension is shown in the above question and I made the effort not to fret over the two marks lost. (The same kind of mistake happened in J's math exam too and I jokingly told him he needed to attend remedial lessons in shading the OAS). 

I am very happy for the school break (and break from tingxie) and pray that J will have a fruitful time catching up on Chinese and doing things that he enjoys. :)


Lyndon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lyndon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lyndon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.