Published on: 21 June 2017

Our Year 10 Chinese class, accompanied by teachers and an assistant, ventured into Chinatown last Thursday to test their language skills in various authentic situations.

The students were given a number of tasks to complete including asking for directions in Mandarin, and finding the name and location of the restaurant where they were to meet for lunch.

This resulted in a series of encounters where the boys’ attempts to carry out a conversation in Mandarin were met with enthusiasm, encouragement and a degree of hilarity from local Chinese businesses. At a particular pharmacy, students encountered a young Australian man who had learnt Mandarin at the Confucius Institute and proved willing and able to assist. Meanwhile, his Chinese co-worker crouched behind a cabinet and videoed the exchange with much excitement and laughter. She was most impressed with the efforts to converse in Mandarin.

Another helpful native Mandarin speaker was found in a babywear shop. This had been organised in advance and the assistant happily provided clear and simple directions to the boys as they entered the shop. She was very positive about the encounter and loved interacting with students learning the language.

The students were also given a Chinese character hunting task and there was a significant amount of focus as they attempted to read posters, menus and signs to find the relevant answers. When they had arrived safely at the designated restaurant, students ordered dishes and made simple requests to the restaurant staff. A variety of tasty dishes arrived accompanied with Chinese tea.

“Despite the nervousness of being expected to manage solely in Mandarin, the students thoroughly enjoyed their excursion and the opportunity to engage in authentic language experiences”, said Chinese Teacher, Miss Xiaoyang Zhang.

To finish on a sweet note, there was just enough time to call in for bubble tea before heading back to school.