Chinese Characters are similar to Egyptian Hieroglyphs; many characters are originally from pictures. Pictograph is an old writing, which simply draw a picture to represent a thing. For example, the character of a mountain develops from original drawing of three peaks together.
This VAKL tool can help students learn Chinese character by discovering similar shape and building a connection between a picture and a character. Use four steps to demonstrate how to use the tool in a classroom. First, use post-it sticky notes to make pictures on yellow notes, and English words and Chinese character (with pinyin) on green notes. The reason of using sticky notes is easy to move and reuse these notes. Second, put these notes on the top of a board into three categories. Third, pick up a picture, and ask students to identify it in English. Pick up related an English word and put on the left side of the picture. Forth, explain how to use the shape of the picture finding a Chinese word. Using think-aloud help student understand the matching process. Compare with a picture and a word to find similar shape in them. And then put the word on the right side of the picture.
Next, a teacher can deliberately make a mistake in next example, and ask students for help to fix it. So the teacher can see how the understand levels of students are. Do this as another demonstration how to figure out a similar shape between a picture and a Chinese character. Let students do it individually for the rest of notes. Make corrections as need.
Put all the notes into a zip bag, and let students use it in group activity. After student can match it very well, teacher can take pictures out and let student directly match English word and Chinese character together.
Similarly, recognize words from their word shape are called “Bouma shape” by modern psychologists. It is a very effective strategy for word recognition, especially when teaching homophone.
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