What is your learning goal?
Learning is a lifelong journey, your destination shouldn’t just be a test.
I’ve been teaching Chinese to adult students for two years. Most of my students are foreigners working and living in China. From free talks with them in daily life, I realised that most Chinese textbooks are neither attractive nor practical for them. They said learning those dialogues or vocabularies makes them feel that they are treated as kids, which is quite uncomfortable for adult students.
For example, the HSK test (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi/Chinese Proficiency Test) doesn’t have a mandatory spoken test. And for listening part, the audio is very standard mandarin with no accent, which is far away from student’s daily life in China. That’s why most foreigners feel confused in conversations with Chinese people.
What is a practical way to teach Chinese?
It’s reasonable that HSK keeps the curriculum this way, but for students who really want to learn Chinese in a practical way, I personally suggest HSK as just auxiliary material.
In my class, the first thing to do in a trial lesson, I will ask about students’ motivation to learn Chinese and their areas of interest. And then, I will give a tailor-made study plan based on this. Teaching material is a combination of different content, some from certain textbooks, some are relevant knowledge points from culture and daily life, and some depend on the student's area of interest.
With this kind of teaching method, my students said they benefit a lot because what they learn can be practiced on the other day in life. It’s not for any kind of test, but for their happier life in China.
Taboo about teaching Chinese to adults
There’s another taboo about Chinese teaching for adults. When a student asks a Chinese teacher to recommend a book to read, the teacher always recommends books for kids, which may attack a student’s self-confidence. Because books for kids are too simple, they imply to students, “I can only read this for now.”
However, adult learners are worth reading books with their interest even if they don't have enough vocabulary yet. There are many ways for adult learners to be able to read with insufficient Chinese knowledge, for example, looking up dictionaries and taking notes. As a teacher, I respect and encourage my students to read whatever books they want, and I will try my best to assist them to be able to read.