Integrated Chinese: A Brief History

I. How Did It Get Started
II. Why Use the Name Integrated Chinese
III. All Four Language Skills Are Stressed
IV. Basic Organizational Principles
V. Integrating Pedagogical and Authentic Materials
VI. Integrating Written and Spoken Styles
VII. Integrating Traditional and Simplified Characters
VIII. Integrating Teaching Approach
IX. Modern Technology
X. The Seven Member Committee

I. How Did It Get Started

Integrated Chinese (IC) originated as a set of teaching materials designed to suit the needs of the curriculum of the Chinese School of the East Asian Summer Language Institute (EASLI) at Indiana University. The overall planning was done in the summer of 1993 at the weekly Chinese School faculty meetings. A couple of sample lessons were also designed during that summer. Seven of the Chinese School teachers, Nyan-ping Bi (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Yea-fen Chen (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Liangyan Ge (University of Notre Dame), Yuehua Liu (Harvard University), Yaohua Shi (University of Massachusetts at Amherst), Xiaojun Wang (Western Michigan University), Tao-chung (Ted) Yao (University of Hawaii), participated in this project and started to work on it in the fall.

During the fall of 1993, the first ten lessons of both Level One and Two were written and distributed to all seven members of the textbook committee for their comments and suggestions. During the Christmas holidays, all seven worked for ten days in South Hadley, Massachusetts and revised the first ten lessons of the first two levels, and wrote ten more lessons for each level. They continued to work on this project in their spare time, throughout the spring of 1994 and joined forces again in Bloomington, Indiana three weeks before the beginning of EASLI to finalize the first draft of this new set of materials. It was field tested at the Chinese School in the summer of 1994.

Both Level One and Level Two Chinese courses at the EASLI Chinese School used the materials, with positive results. The student consensus was that they had learned a lot in just nine weeks. This initial success prompted the decision to improve IC further for use in regular year-long programs, as well. During the 1994-1995 academic year, IC was field-tested at a half dozen schools in the United States. After receiving some feedback from the users, IC was revised in the summer of 1996. Some seventeen universities and colleges field tested the 1996 version of IC.

II. Why Use the Name Integrated Chinese

We came up with the title Integrated Chinese because it reflects what we intend to accomplish. We place emphasis on all four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and incorporate into our teaching materials those teaching philosophies and methods which might help our students to master the Chinese language. Furthermore, we utilize any modern technology that might aid the process of language instruction. The scheme of integration is further elaborated below.

III. All Four Language Skills Are Stressed

The Chinese title of Integrated Chinese, which is simply "中文聽說讀寫" (Chinese: Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing), reflects our belief that a healthy language program should be a well-balanced one, paying attention to all four skills, listening, speaking, reading and writing. To ensure that students will be strong in all skills, and because we believe that each of the four skills needs special training, the exercises in the workbook are divided into four sections of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Within each section, there are two types of exercises, namely, traditional exercises (such as fill-in-the- blank, sentence completion, translation, etc.) to help students build a solid foundation, and communication-oriented exercises to prepare students to face the real world.

(Note: Chinese characters are in Traditional [Big-5].)

IV. Basic Organizational Principles

In recent years, a very important fact has been recognized by the field of language teaching: the ultimate goal of learning a language is to communicate in that language. As a result, many communication-oriented language textbooks have been produced. However, the Chinese language field has produced very few communication-oriented textbooks, and they cannot satisfy the need of a full-fledged program which offers beginning through advanced Chinese language courses. Our field is in desperate need for a set of Chinese

language instructional materials that is communication-oriented, yet carefully graded to provide students with a solid foundation in grammar. In other words, our field needs a set of materials which will give students grammatical tools and also prepare them to function in a Chinese language environment. The materials should cover all levels of instruction (from beginning to advanced and beyond), with smooth transitions from one level to the next. The materials should first cover everyday life topics and gradually move to more abstract subject matters. The materials should not be limited to one method or one approach but should use any teaching method and approach that can produce good results. Following are some of the features of Integrated Chinese which make it different from other currently available Chinese language textbooks.

V. Integrating Pedagogical and Authentic Materials

All of the materials are graded in Integrated Chinese. We believe that students can grasp the materials better if they learn simple and easy to control language items before the more difficult or complicated ones. We also believe that our students should be taught some authentic materials even in the first year of language instruction. Therefore, most of the pedagogical materials are actually simulated authentic materials. Real authentic materials (written by native Chinese speakers for native Chinese speakers) are incorporated in the lessons when appropriate.

VI. Integrating Written and Spoken Styles

One way to measure a person's Chinese proficiency is to see if s/he can handle the "written style" (書面語) with ease. The "written style" language is more formal and literal than the "spoken style" (口語)); however, it is also widely used in news broadcasts and formal speeches. In addition to the "spoken style" Chinese, basic "written style" expressions are gradually introduced in Integrated Chinese .

VII. Integrating Traditional and Simplified Characters

We believe that students should learn to handle Chinese language materials in both the traditional and the simplified forms. However, we also realize that it could be rather confusing and overwhelming if we teach our students both the traditional and the simplified forms from day one. A reasonable solution to this problem is for the student to concentrate on one form, either traditional or simplified, at the first level, and to acquire the other form during the second level. Therefore, for level one, we have prepared two sets of materials, one using traditional characters and one using simplified characters, to meet different needs. To accommodate those who wish to learn both traditional and simplified forms at the same time, we have included simplified-character texts in the appendices of the traditional-character version, and traditional-character texts in the appendices of the simplified-characters version. The users will also find that both forms of characters are used in the vocabulary index at the end of the textbook. There are also two versions of the workbook and the character workbook for level one. In the traditional-character version of the Character Workbook, simplified characters are provided, and in the simplified-character version of the Character Workbook, traditional characters are also provided.

We believe that by the second year of studying Chinese, all students should be taught to read both traditional and simplified characters. Therefore, the text of each lesson is shown in both traditional and simplified forms, and the vocabulary list in each lesson also contains both forms. Considering that students in a second-year Chinese language class might come from different backgrounds and that some of them might have learned the traditional form and some others the simplified form, students should be allowed to write in either traditional or simplified forms. It is important to make the student write in one form only, and not a hybrid of both forms.

VIII. Integrating Teaching Approach

Realizing that there is no one single teaching method which is adequate in training a student to be proficient in all four language skills, we employ a variety of teaching methods and approaches to maximize the teaching results. In addition to the communicative approach, we also use other methods such as grammar-translation, audio-lingual, direct method, total physical response, etc.

IX. Modern Technology

Integrated Chinese is intended to be a set of instructional materials which will include textbooks, workbooks, character workbooks, teaching aids, audiotapes, videotapes, CD-ROM, laser discs, computer programs, and interactive multimedia programs. We have already established this homepage on the World Wide Web whch will serve as a resource center as well as a support group for the users. New materials (such as new exercises or teaching activities developed by the original Integrated Chinese textbook committee or by others) will be shared and teaching ideas will be exchanged on the internet. Students can do most of the exercises on the internet, and teachers can check the answers.


X. The Seven Member Committee

BI, Nyan-ping (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
CHEN, Yea-fen (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
GE, Liangyan (University of Notre Dame)
LIU, Yuehua (Harvard University)
SHI, Yaohua (University of Massachusetts at Amherst)
WANG, Xiaojun (Western Michigan University)
YAO, Ted Tao-chung (University of Hawaii)


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