Saturday, April 9, 2016

Mandarin Question-Word Cube

Question words. They are a common hangup in our weekly Mandarin lessons, causing the girls confusion and frustration as they mix up the meanings of the words. 

For example, last week we were deep in the middle of story creation when I asked the question, "为什么?" (Wèishénme? Why?) The blank expression on their faces informed me that they didn't understand the question. 

"Okay," I took a step back, "What does 'wèishénme?' mean?"

"Who?" "What?"  They guessed. 

We run into this problem more often than not when we encounter a question word. To help with this problem, I thought that we needed a visual: a question-word cube. 

Our question-word cube after being sat on
What's a question-word cube? Glad you asked! A question word cube is a cube (haha!) with Mandarin question words and translations written on each face of the cube. It can be manipulated when the girls need a quick memory jog and used to help generate new stories and sentences (more on that later). 

How to make your very own Mandarin question-word cube: 

1. Brainstorm a list of Mandarin question words that you use in lessons OR copy some words from this list. Yes, there are more than six question words in Mandarin so maybe pick the words that need the most practice or make two cubes with different words on each.

2. Print out a die template. Download a free template from First Palette or another website. There are lots of options out there! Print out your template (card stock works best) and write a Mandarin question word/pinyin/translation on each face of the cube. If you're new to writing Chinese characters, you can look up characters and view animated stroke order at Yellow Bridge.

Easy Peasy! 

Now, how will we use this cube in our Mandarin lessons? More on that later...

What tools do you use to learn new Mandarin words? 

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