Chinese Resources

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Art and idioms

Reading "Breakfast of Champions" by Kurt Vonnegut has inspired a desire to take a bit more time out of life for simply doodling things down. That book, coupled with the works of the Horse Dragon Fish blog, better known as Chinese Superman (中文超人), and the awesome, smart, witty comics of M and MX, is why my new "art and idioms" posts exist today.

The post that started it all: 字如其人
Armed with an iPad, a stylus, and the app Paper I've been trying to spend a few minutes mixing "art" with Chinese idioms; breaking with the traditional mold of tweeting a single Chinese word, or even a new word coupled with a short sample sentence. While those things have their place in second language acquisition, I often find the posts stale and easy to ignore (what is the first thing you really notice about advertisements?).
開卷有益: While I've never actually read 《三字經》I'm certain it would be profitable to do so!
Subconsciously I've been aware for some time of what @kidsdada kindly shared with me yesterday regarding "Strategies for Second Language Learners"--namely what what found under the sub-heading "Alternative Assessments." And I quote:
Developing content knowledge while learning a second language requires accurate and ongoing assessment. While students should become proficient readers and writers in the mainstream language, they should not be limited to these methods when showing what they have learned. Models, dramatic performances, drawings, and similar activities allow second language learners to demonstrate the content they have learned in ways that address their strengths. (bolded for emphasis)
 A "typical" class project for me goes beyond an oral report, or mind-numbing lecture. I want my kids to "show" me what they've learned in their own way, using their own individual strengths. As a final project at a Chinese heritage weekend school, my students scripted, directed, and acted out their own theatrical rendition of the idiom 對牛彈琴. After the traditional story was told they had fun with a modern day example of how the idiom could be used. Through the process my students learned so much more than just how to use the language; they worked together as a group, got creative, and put on a performance worthy of... well let's just say it was entertaining for all parties involved.
畫蛇添足: Can't believe I wrote the 足 wrong initially! 
For me, these images aren't really an appeal to my strengths, but rather an appeal to breaking from the norm. While Chris over at Horse Dragon Fish, and M and MX have some serious talent when it comes to creating art, I wasn't going to let a lack of talent stop me from participating. Heck, isn't that was Draw Something is all about? Sure people like to marvel at the really good drawings that show up online, but not being able to draw a photo-realistic image of Darth Vader certainly isn't going to keep people from having fun.
光陰似箭: Is it "time files like an arrow" or "time flies 'on' an arrow," I always forget.
And that is what these new images are all about for me-- simply having fun. The images sprinkled all over this post are my first week of "Art and idioms." I don't know if they will remain daily once the semester starts, but I sure hope so. Even more, I hope they both entertain and inspire you to find new fun ways to use your Chinese. As always, thanks for reading!
井底之蛙: I won't let my inability to draw frogs (or good a good panda) stop me!

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