How to do Chinese homework

This week, I spent a few days with my son revising his Chinese lessons for his quarterly exam.

He could read and write quite a number of Chinese characters but we had trouble reading the instructions.

I’ve decided to compile a list of common instructions found in Chinese textbooks and tests:

1. 读一读

dú yī dú
Translation: “Read (aloud)”

2. 看拼音写词语

kàn pīnyīn xiě cí yǔ
Translation: Read the pinyin and write out the Chinese characters.

Note that it does not state hànzì 汉字, which are Chinese characters. Google Translate reveal that cí yǔ 词语 are “terms and expressions”.

3. 照样子连线

zhào yàngzi lián xiàn
Translation: Look for the matching pairs 照样子 (i.e. Chinese characters = pinyin and vice versa), then draw a line (线 xiàn) to connect (连 lián) them.

I found a phrase 原原本本照样子做了 (yuányuánběnběn zhào yàngzi zuòle). 原原本本 mean “from beginning to the end”. I guess it means “copy exactly what you see from beginning to the end”?

Interestingly, 原 refers to “raw” while 本 refers to “undergraduate”. I wonder if it also symbolizes the Chinese rote learning system?

Now, I understand why my Chinese students are always asking me for a sample for everything!

4. 拼一拼, 看一看, 写一写

pīn yī pīn, kàn yī kàn, xiě yī xiě
Translation: “Spell, read and write.”

First, you need to spell out the individual pinyin sounds e.g. b – i.

Then, write out the resulting combination -> bi (pen).

5. 照样子, 写一写

zhào yàngzi xiě yī xiě
Translation: Referring to each example, write out the Chinese character hànzì 汉字 according to its stroke order.

6. 看图, 填空, 再 读一读

kàn tú, tián kòng zài dú yī dú
Translation: Look at the picture, fill in the blank, read the sentence (again 再 zài).

填空 tián kòng also means “fill a job vacancy”.

7. 照样子, 填空

zhào yàngzi, tián kòng
Translation: Look at the example, fill in the blank.

This task actually involves 3 steps:

i) Look at a character e.g. 女 (female)
ii) Write down the number of strokes i.e. 3
iii) Write the nth number of stroke for that Chinese character i.e. 第一画 是 dì yī huà shì

Fascinating task as I could hear him writing in air and counting out the number of strokes in his heart.

8. 找朋友

zhǎo péngyǒu
Translation: “Find a friend”.

Basically, it’s a matching activity i.e. match the pinyin to the hànzì 汉字.

9. 选择 正确 的 声母 连线

xuǎnzé zhèngquè de shēng mǔ lián xiàn
Translation: Choose the correct pairs of 声母 shēng mǔ (initial consonants). Draw a line to connect them.



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  • Paik Ling Link

    Thanks for this! I’m book-marking this useful post!

  • Kit Link

    Paik Ling – This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a whole lot more! 😛