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Chinese context elaborations

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Achievement objectives

AOs: L6

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Assessment for qualifications:

Chinese L6: Example 3

Example 3: Email


您好!我是李小明。我生病了,所以今天不能上学。真对不起!我已经把功课给兰兰了。她会帮我把功课拿给您。下午 ,妈妈会带我去看医生。如果明天我还是不能上学 ,我会给您打电话。



李小明 上

Context and text type

A student sends a message to his teacher, saying he was sick, and apologising for his absence from his Chinese lesson. The teacher is Chinese.

Text type

Email, semi-formal. Productive.

Examples showing how the student is:

Communicating information, ideas and opinions beyond the immediate context

The student addresses the teacher formally:

  • 王老师

The student uses compound sentences to give reasons for not being at school:

  • 我生病了 ,所以今天不能上学.

The student includes the date:

  • 李小明 上

Expressing and responding to personal ideas and opinions

The text illustrates the use of to make a prediction:

  • 如果明天我还是不能上学 ,我会给您打电话.

Li Xiaoming apologises for not being able to go to school due to illness:

  • 真对不起.

He understands that it is important to notify the school in such circumstances. In addition, because of the high regard for education in Chinese culture, and because his teacher is Chinese, Li Xiaoming wishes to show his respect both for the teacher and for education in presenting his apology.

Communicating appropriately in different situations

Li Xiaoming shows his understanding of Chinese conventions when he addresses his Chinese teacher by profession, not by name:

  • 王老师.

In the Chinese context, a note is considered relatively informal. As a level 6 learner of Chinese, Li Xiaoming understands that a note is acceptable and is concise but polite. He has not yet learnt the various formulaic expressions, specific vocabulary, and particular conventions of formal letter writing in Chinese.

Understanding how language is organised for different purposes

Li Xiaoming uses a more relaxed salutation, 谢谢 , to end the note, rather than 此致.

Even although his writing style is relatively informal, Li Xiaoming uses polite language (as shown by his use of ) to show the relationship between himself and his teacher.

Li Xiaoming consciously addresses himself as 学生 李小明 to further stress the writer–recipient relationship, and to show respect for his teacher.

The Chinese word for teacher, 老师 , is created by putting the characters for 'old' and 'wise' together, indicating the expectations of, and respect for, teachers in Chinese society.

Opportunities for developing intercultural communicative competence

Students could explore the different meanings of the characters 老师 (teacher), 先生 (Mr), and 太太 (Mrs), and how they are used in different contexts and text types. In Chinese culture, people are usually addressed by their family name then their profession; sometimes only by their profession. This shows that the culture places attaches more significance to one’s family and social status than to one’s status as an individual.

Students could investigate the ways teachers (and others) are addressed, and the value placed on their role in Chinese-speaking and other environments.

Last updated March 4, 2013