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Improve of understanding of chinese words & phrases

Understanding chinese words and phrases can be a nightmare for many students, nonetheless, understanding of chinese words and phrases is essential to understanding the content and answering the questions in exams. Misinterpretation of what the author is trying to say can result in the lost of marks. Many sections in the chinese exam paper test directly on the student’s understanding of chinese phrases (词句), for example, close passages test the students ability to distinguish the meaning of one phrase from another. In harder exam papers or in higher chinese exam papers, the meanings of the words gets harder and choices are more similar.

How to improve your understanding

Improving your mastery in any language involves consistent effort in both reading and practicing. For primary school students, they can focus their scope of reading to textbooks and reading materials given by their teachers. Since primary school chinese is relatively easier, many of the phrases comes from textbooks which their teachers will go through and new words will be explained. Spelling test (听写) is useful for primary school students as it helps them memorise the basic words. A strong fundamentals in chinese is valuable as the words gets harder.

For secondary school students, especialy upper secondary, you can forget about reading textbook as the words in the textbook most likely won’t appear in the exams. From my experience in teaching secondary school students, I strongly recommend that secondary school students read newspapers extensively. The level of difficulty of newspaper articles (报章报道) is similar to comprehension passages in exams and many passages and adapted from newspaper articles. Reading news online in chinese also helps, the more topics that is being read on, the broader the understanding of chinese words, especially technical terms that you wouldn’t be able to find in textbooks. Secondary school students can forget about spelling tests as they are allowed to use a dictionary in the composition and the components of their paper 2 tests their understading instead of their ability to read accurately.

Use a Dictionary

In the past 10 years of teaching chinese tuition, I noticed that very few families have a proper chinese dictionary at home while ost homes have more than 1 english dictionary. I am referring to the paperback dictionary. The chinese dictionary may seem to complex and hard to use but it is essential if you are serious about improving your chinese. A Chinese english dictionary can be more helpful in aiding your understanding of harder chinese words but as you improve, I suggest using the all chinese dictionary as the chinese explanation of the words helps tremendously in comprehension for O levels, where the question requires students to explain in detail a certain word or phrase.

Newspaper Subscription

Many schools in singapore, especially primary schools make it compulsory for students to subscribe to weekly chinese newspapers. if your school hasn’t already subscribed for you you should get a personal subscription ASAP. The “联合早报“ is an excellent reading source and it also improves the quality of the students essay, especially for secondary school students who prefer writing newspaper reports (报章报道).

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