Hello everyone, I’m Cathy. I took a break for a while because I became a Chinese teacher. Due to my recent busy schedule, I decided to take some time off. Today, I want to share my teaching experience from the past six months (from September 2023 to now). This sharing will focus more on the challenges and bottlenecks I encountered in teaching, all related to the popularity of social media. If you’re interested, keep reading!

Who is right? Parents or school teachers?

The use of Mandarin varies in different parts of Asia, and there are differences between simplified and traditional characters. However, this difference seems to become less obvious with the rising popularity of TikTok. The classes I teach have a younger age group (7-10 years old), making them more influenced by their parents who are exposed to TikTok, confusing learning Mandarin in Taiwan. For example, in Taiwan and China, we use different terms to refer to the same thing. But these kids are exposed to the digital world using Chinese terms from the moment they start speaking. At home, their parents also use Chinese terms, so they often struggle to understand my terminology in class. They might instinctively wonder why the teacher corrects them when everyone around them speaks that way.

Currently, my solution is to guide and explain to them the differences between Chinese in China and Chinese in Taiwan. It’s crucial to highlight why we need to know these differences, not just for exams. However, these students are too young, and the impact of explanations may not be significant.

Simplified characters or traditional characters?

Several times, I found that students wrote in simplified characters in their Chinese exam papers. Honestly, as a rookie teacher, I’m not sure how more experienced teachers would handle such exam papers, especially when the students have almost no mistakes. The method I learned from other teachers is to tell students, “This is Taiwan, please write in traditional characters.” Fortunately, I haven’t encountered a student saying Taiwan is part of China, so they should write in simplified characters. However, I feel that future students might weaken their motivation to learn traditional characters due to the convenience of simplified characters and their dominance on social media.

The disappearance of the Taiwanese accent

Even though we speak the same Chinese, Taiwanese people tend to not roll their tongues and speak slowly, giving a cute and gentle impression. This has become one of the characteristics of Taiwanese Mandarin. However, due to the influence of social media, I noticed that students around the ages of seven to ten are speaking more like Chinese people. Greetings have changed from “Good morning” to “早上好,” and the way they play with peers and interact with parents has become more influenced by TikTok, making it more dramatic, seeking effects, and sharper. In simple terms, they have become more theatrical and eager to fit the popular indicators of being liked and popular in this entertainment-centric era. This is a concern that educators need to address.

The above is my sharing of experiences in the past six months. If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave a comment to share with me.

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