It is no wonder that Chinese is a very popular subject among Hong Kong students who have more or less experience of speaking or reading Chinese in their daily life. Some students born into a local family may be native speakers of Cantonese; some foreign kids may start to learn Chinese since primary school. But it is important to notice that, proficiency of Chinese does not necessarily lead to success in IB Chinese subjects. IB Chinese courses expect students to demonstrate very good abilities of analyzing literature and languages within cultural and social context. Reading fictions, writing long essays and individual oral commentary may also sound very stressful for students who don’t have the habit of reading novels. Studying Chinese definitely requires extra work after school because each student has his or her own problems in reading or writing, this is why IB Chinese tutor is very helpful for learning Chinese. Students will have the chance to talk to an experienced person face to face, to solve all their problems in a very detailed way. Before taking the course, students should spend some time to learn about how the subject is structured and to think which course is the best for them.
Language A: Studies in Language and Literature
This group of courses mainly focuses on two goals: to improve students’ ability of using and analyzing the use language through introducing them basic linguistic and communication knowledge, and to guide students to understand and analyze various literature works through discussing writing techniques, context and etc. They are expected to demonstrate good skills in appreciating literary works and writing long essays. Ability of examining a fiction or cultural phenomenon within certain historical and cultural background is also crucial.
. Students could choose two languages from this group to get a bilingual diploma. For example, they could take both Chinese A Language Literature and English A Language and Literature. This subject provides two courses: Language A: Literature and Language A: Language and Literature.
Language A: Literature
This course focuses on literature studies for students whose mother tongue is Chinese. This course is divided into four parts, and each part introduces a certain group of literary works. After studying this course, students will have a very clear view of literary works from various historical backgrounds, cultures and genres. Students are expected to analyze literary works using various perspectives, particularly analyzing the social and cultural context. They will not only learn how to conduct textual analysis but also learn how to write long comparative essays on more than texts.
This course enables teachers to pick up literary works from a prescribed list. There are four parts: works in translation, detailed study, literary genres, and options in which works are freely chosen.
This course is available in both Standard Level and Higher Level. Higher Level requires students to spend 240 class hours as the minimum, and Standard Level students need to spend 150 class hours. Higher Level students should study 13 literary works and Standard Level students need 10. Besides, the assessment of Higher Level is much more difficult than the Standard Level. In paper 1 Literary Analysis, all students will analyze one unseen article but Standard Level students will have two guiding questions. In Individual Oral Commentary, Standard Level students will do a 10-minutes commentary on one work from part 2, but Higher Level students are required to talk about poetry in part 2 within the 10 minutes, followed by a discussion on one of the other 2 part works. In paper 2, students will have the same essay questions but as Higher Level students study more literary works have more time to finish their writing, they often choose to take three or more texts into analysis rather than 2 works.
Language A: Language and Literature
This course is divided into four parts, two focusing on language and two on literature. Students are guided to think about the meaning of language we use everyday and to explore how the use of language has influenced our life, while they also need to study literary works to improve their skills of appreciating literature and to demonstrate their ability of understanding cultural and social context. Students will not only study fictions but also non-literature works, such as advertisement, news report and historical documentaries.
This course is available in both Standard Level and Higher Level. Higher Level requires students to spend 240 class hours as the minimum, and Standard Level students need to spend 150 class hours. Higher Level students should study 6 literary works and Standard Level students need 4.
The first part is language in cultural context, and text will be chosen from a wide range of medias and forms. The second part is language and mass communication. The third part is literature – texts and contexts. Both Higher Level and Standard Level students will study one work translated from another language and one work written in Chinese. But Higher Level students are required to study one more literary work, which can be freely chosen. The fourth part is literature – critical study; texts will be chosen from a prescribed list.
The assessment of Higher Level and Standard Level are similar, even though Higher Level students have more time in the test to write longer essays. 70% of the assessment will be external, including paper 1 writing in textual analysis, paper 2 essay writing to use literary works to respond to certain questions, and a written task. The rest 30% internal assessment will be individual oral commentary and further oral commentary. What should be noted is that, while Standard Level students only need to analyze one article, Higher Level students need to conduct comparative analysis of two unseen articles.
Students are required to take at least one subject from this group. Students who study Chinese as the second language can take one course in this group. It does not require understanding of literature works but focuses on the ability of understanding and using Chinese in various situations in daily life, such as writing emails, diaries and public speeches. There are two subjects available in Chinese in this group: Chinese ab initio and Chinese B.
Chinese ab initio
This course is for beginners, for example, students whose first language is English but have a little experience in learning Chinese or have no experience. It is only available in Standard Level.
In this class, students will learn how to use Chinese to express their ideas in daily conversations, to understand some reading tasks and to use Chinese to write very simple and short paragraphs. After finishing this course, students are expected to demonstrate good writing and speaking skills in discussing everyday topics, such as self introduction, weather, travelling, shopping, family members and so on. This course may sound difficult for foreign students who have very limited exposure to Chinese, for example, they don’t have chances to speak Chinese out of class. But no worries, as long as they are interested in Chinese and they are willing to spend time in practicing, they will make great progresses.
If students have some experience of learning Chinese, they could choose Chinese B. Chinese B courses are available in both Higher Level and Standard Level. Chinese B courses focuses on various topics: communication and media, global issues, social relationships, and optional topics including cultural diversity, customs and traditions, health, leisure, science and technology for students to pick up 2. Through reading articles and writing on those topics, students will enlarge their vocabularies and improve their abilities of writing well-structured sentences and well-organized essays. They will be guided to write blogs, diaries, emails and letters, public speeches and debating speeches to improve their skills of organizing an argument and expressing their ideas.
Students will be assessed from three aspects. The first is reading skills. They will read several short articles in their paper 1 test, to answer following questions so that teachers can examine if students could understand very detailed information and difficult vocabularies. The second part is writing test in paper 2. Students will choose one question from a list and to write a short essay in different formats. They need to be familiar with various formats and to be able to talk about various topics. So it is important to remember relevant sentences and examples in their daily studies when they read textbooks or extra reading exercise. They also need to organise their writing in a very clear and logical way. Besides, they will finish their written assignment, which will test their ability of reading, summarising and writing. The third part is speaking and listening skills. All Chinese B students will do oral test, both individual oral speaking and presentation with friends. Good pronunciation and fluent expression is crucial. In the new syllabus, they will have a listening test that they need to answer questions based on what they have listened, which requires them to develop quick understanding of Chinese.
Tips on Studying Chinese
At the first sight IB Chinese courses may look complicated, but there are always very useful ways to succeed. Here are tips shared by IB tutors.
Firstly, practice makes perfect. Students should spend more time to read and write in Chinese no matter they take Chinese A or B. Students may find they don't have the opportunities to practice Chinese and usually they don't have homework. What they need is to find reading and writing materials on their own or ask an IB tutor for help. It is through practice day by day that we can develop good vocabularies and good knowledge of Chinese culture.
Secondly, revise. Always rethink about your homework or papers after your teacher graded it. Read comment carefully and ask questions when you are not sure about what it means. Revise everything. This can help you to polish your writing and in the next time when you write a similar topic or analyzing a similar example, you will know avoid the same mistakes.
Thirdly, find a sample to imitate. Learning a language is always about imitation. We imitate other people how to talk, how to use certain expressions and how to write a well-organized essay. Students often say: “I know this is a good quotation, but how to elaborate it? I don't know what to do after I put it here.” How to solve that problem? Find a sample, or find someone who can write that sample for you and teach you how to analyze a quotation or a secondary source. Students meet this problem not only when they write their paper 2 but also in their extended essay if they choose to do Chinese. It is very normal that they have no idea what a 4800-characters should look like; even university students will write such a long paper only in their third or final years. This is what IB tutor can help. They have experienced in writing research papers on various topics so that they can help you with structuring your argument and conducting academic research. Always take Chinese as a language, not just a subject; then you will find the beauty of the Chinese literature and culture. IB Chinese tutor will always be a very good choice if you need someone to listen to your worries, to help you to find out your weakness and to help you to improve.