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Baby Steps to News

Suggested Difficulty (Elementary etc): All levels
Video or Audio: Either
Lesson Idea: Hi @Constance_Fang and Team,

If I can say it, then I can read it. If I can’t say it, then it’s extremely difficult to read it.

This is a problem a lot of us adult Western learners have with Chinese. It’s also one reason we HATE Chinese newspapers so much - it’s a different language from the Chinese we’ve learned to speak. I took 4 semesters of 报刊 class, and all of us Westerners in the class agreed: It was possibly the most painful waste of time of our lives. For two years we didn’t understand what we were reading, and it didn’t seem to matter.

How about a series that spans all the difficulty levels that teaches us to talk like a newspaper? The goal is of course not to around sounding like a Xinhua news anchor. Rather, the goal is to learn how to produce the language, so that when we hear or see the language, we can actually understand it.

It could start out at the lower levels with short, silly fake news pieces about anything ridiculous (to make it more interesting). Maybe some of them could even be taken from popular Western movies we’re already familiar with.

Example: A super brief article about Mr. Incredible being defeated by the Underminer (Incredibles 2), dinosaurs escaping from Jurassic Park, child defeats house breakers with boobie traps (Home Alone), etc. Historical subjects could be covered, too, like the sinking of the Titanic, or, on a more serious note, the Taiping Rebellion. A lesson I found incredibly helpful along these lines is the Intermediate Godzilla in Shanghai.

As it moves up in the levels, the topic could become more serious and legitimate. But after the fun foundation at lower levels, handling the formal language at higher levels could become much more manageable.

And, by covering popular movies and historical events like they are current news, the news can have the flavor and excitement of something controversial - without running into problems with certain countries that don’t like honest news.

1 Like

This is a great idea! :smiley:

I agree that real news items are never as easy for learners as native speakers seem to believe.

Turning popular culture into news items sounds like a great way of doing it too:
“Orphan boy, 11, plagued by owls on birthday; foster father has nervous breakdown.”