The Benefits of Learning Key Vocabulary in IB Chinese


While numerous individuals embark upon Chinese language acquisition daunted by the seemingly irrevocable perception that the Chinese language, given its seemingly sprawling lengths of proverbs, multitude of intonations and character based writing system, is simply impossible to master, many who have completed a Chinese language course soon learn that not only does learning Chinese teach you a completely new way of thinking about and approaching language acquisition, but that there are indeed numerous advantages to learning it. While there’s no denying that as a language, Chinese is replete with its fair share of unwieldy intonations and colloquialisms that simply can’t be mastered in a day, there are ways to master it- and there’s no better place to start than by learning new vocabulary.

Why might you spend time simply learning up vocabulary when you might have a far more engaging Netflix show to attend to or simply find something like English more intuitive? Well, in this blog, we’ll try and outline to you the plethora of advantages that comes with something as simple as learning new words – especially when embarking upon the IB Chinese curriculum!

Helps in reading comprehension

One of the key skills the IB Chinese curriculum assesses in students is their ability to comprehend and respond to unfamiliar written material. As a lot of the passages in Paper 1 fall under the syllabus topics, learning key vocabulary from each will help you pinpoint the main message of each passage, even if you don’t know all the characters, enabling you to respond to the questions more accurately and confidently.

Moreover, while reading Chinese may not be as straightforward as enunciating the letters in a word you’ve never come across in the English language, there’s a lot more depth to the characters than one may assume. Often, if you know the meaning of one character in a compound word, you’ll be able to develop a rough idea of what the word means overall. Synonyms are often constructed out of the same characters, and several Chinese words are simply amalgamations of characters you’re probably familiar with. Therefore, the more vocabulary you know, the more able you’ll be to make deductions about what they mean, enhancing your ability to understand the passages!

Helps in writing

In order to score in the highest mark band for Criterion A, a student must demonstrate that “a wide range of vocabulary is used accurately, with few significant errors.” Learning key vocabulary is especially helpful in fulfilling this criteria as the vocabulary equips you with the means and tools to express yourself in different ways. This helps add variety to your piece and allows you better articulate your ideas, preventing your writing from being bland and repetitive.

It’s especially helpful to learn idioms because when used correctly and effectively, they help add complexity to your writing. Idioms are especially layered in meaning and often quite metaphorical, allowing you to express yourself with more sophistication.

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Helps with the oral

The interactive and individual orals can be very nerve-wracking experiences, and if you’re one who has a penchant for nervous stuttering and loss of focus during an exam scenario, having vocabulary to fall back on will be a major boost to your confidence. Knowing the vocabulary can help guide you in creating your plan during the preparation time for the individual oral, making sure you have a clear idea of what to mention. Moreover, being familiar with the vocabulary for each topic is especially helpful during the discussion, when the teacher could ask you about anything and the quality of your performance will be dependent upon your ability to understand and respond to the questions asked to you. It’ll be a much less daunting experience if you understand what the teacher’s asking you as opposed to looking like a deer in headlights as a result of not understanding the vocabulary they used!

Overall, it makes you a better communicator

At the end of the day, the purpose of learning a language is to be able to communicate and connect with other speakers of that language. While it’s impossible for the average person to master all the colloquialisms and the niches of the language, knowing the most popular, key vocabulary used in the language makes it significantly easier to understand another person. Being able to rely upon a broad range of words to express yourself, and being able to identify these words when used by another individual serves to ease and facilitate communication.

Helps you think differently and appreciate a new culture

A language is always an insight into a country’s cultural identity, form of expression and ways of thinking. Learning a language can therefore prove to be a very eye-opening experience.

It’s apparent that taking the effort to learn new vocabulary often yields numerous benefits – so why not toil a little while learning how to write a new character, use it in a sentence, and pronounce it, only to better understand your reading paper by the time exams come around? While it may seem tedious at first, being able to fluently communicate in another language is effectively a conduit to being a more knowledgeable, insightful and global citizen as you learnt to connect with and appreciate a new culture. Struggle now, benefit ten-fold later – never underestimate the power of accessing another’s culture.

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