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Chinese L6: Context elaborations

Students are expected to communicate information, ideas, and opinions, and express and respond to personal ideas and opinions in areas of most immediate relevance. The content and language of the communication strand is targeted beyond the immediate context to include the expression of opinions.

Students are expected to understand and produce a variety of text types.

Example 1: Phone conversation

Pengpeng — 喂 ,是 Rebecca 吗? 我是朋朋

Rebecca — 你好 ,我就是。

Pengpeng — 你好。明天晚上你有空吗?

Rebecca — 对。你有什么事?

Pengpeng — 明天是我的生日!你来我家吃饭吧!

Rebecca — 好啊。我没去过你家。怎么去?

Pengpeng — 不用坐车。我家离学校很近 , 走路只要五分钟。从学校出去往右
走。到了红绿灯 ,过了马路就是我家。

Rebecca — 好 ,你家是几号?

Pengpeng — 我家是十八号。五点到我家。我们要看电影。

Rebecca — 好。要我带什么东西?

Pengpeng — 带一个大红包就行了! 哈哈哈!开玩笑。你什么都不用带。

Rebecca — 好 ,明天晚上见。

Pengpeng - 好 ,明天晚上见。

Context and text type

Pengpeng, a Chinese student, invites her friend Rebecca, who is learning Chinese, to her birthday party. They discuss what activities there will be, what they need to bring, and how to get there.

Text type

Phone conversation, informal. Interactive.

Examples showing how the student is:

Communicating information, ideas, and opinions beyond the immediate context

Rebecca uses 你好 to greet Pengpeng. This greeting is more often used in a face-to-face situation. is the conventional greeting in a phone conversation. Rebecca’s use of 你好 does not however appear to inhibit communication.

Rebecca uses the past tense to communicate information beyond the immediate context:

  • 我没去过你家。

Rebecca asks many questions about the birthday party, for example:

  • 怎么去?

This is spoken interaction, so features such as pronunciation, intonation, rhythm patterns, delivery speed, audibility, stress patterns, and tones have a bearing on the overall effectiveness of the communication and need to be taken into consideration.

Expressing and responding to personal ideas and opinions

Rebecca expresses acceptance of Pengpeng’s suggestions:

  • 好啊/ 好.

Rebecca responds to Pengpeng’s comments by asking questions, for example:

  •  你有什么事?

The text illustrates the use of questions to seek information:

  • 怎么去?你家几号?

Such questions also help sustain the conversation.

Communicating appropriately in different situations

Rebecca shows that she understands Pengpeng’s use of 不用 when giving suggestions and advice (你什么都不用带) by replying, 好 ,明天晚上见。

She seems to understand the convention in Chinese culture that guests are not expected to contribute anything towards the party when they accept the invitation. It can be seen as a great insult to the host if they BYO.

Pengpeng uses colloquial expressions such as 带一个大红包. It is the Chinese custom to give money in a red envelope as a present. Pengpeng says it as a joke, as she understands that it is not the case in New Zealand. Rebecca seems to understand Pengpeng’s humour.

哈哈哈!(LOL) is another colloquialism that Pengpeng uses when speaking to Rebecca. She uses it because it is an expression that is commonly used in New Zealand English, and she knows that Rebecca will most likely understand it. Students could investigate whether this expression is used in the languages they know.

对 means 'correct', and is seldom used as equivalent to the English 'yes'. In Chinese, it is usual to repeat the verb from the question to confirm or agree with something. Here, it would have been more appropriate for Rebecca to have replied to Pengpeng’s question by saying 有 or 有空。Pengpeng, however, appears to understand what Rebecca means.

Rebecca’s interrogative sentence 要我带什么东西?is grammatically incorrect. As a yes/no question, it should read 要我带什么东西吗?The grammatical error does not appear to impede the effectiveness of the communication.

Understanding how language is organised for different purposes

Pengpeng gives an informal greeting, , when answering the phone. This sets the tone of the conversation as an informal encounter.

The conversation ends with Pengpeng repeating Rebecca’s last sentence, to indicate to Rebecca her confirmation of the arrangements for the party.

The conversation is clearly an intercultural encounter. When Pengpeng invites Rebecca to her party, Rebecca needs to find out what Pengpeng’s expectations are in relation to culturally appropriate behaviour. Rebecca and Pengpeng construct their cultural understandings through their interaction, because Rebecca takes the initiative in asking questions.

Opportunities for developing intercultural communicative competence

The sentence 带一个大红包 provides an opportunity for students to understand that money wrapped in red can be used as a birthday present.

Students can explore why Chinese people regard red as a lucky colour, and what qualities they invest in other colours. They can make comparisons and connections with the different associations of colours in their own cultures, for example, the colours associated with weddings and funerals.

Last updated March 27, 2013