Research with Cablecast Facility for Mandarin Teaching


Ifay F. Chang*, Ph.D.

TLC Information Services

PO Box 944, Yorktown Heights, NY, USA 10589




The difficulties with teaching Mandarin as a second language in pronunciation, conversation,  reading and writing are challenging in conventional classroom teaching.  Experiments have been conducted in a Cablecast environment to develop a pedagogy for helping beginners to cross over the chasm of learning Mandarin. An industrial TV cablecast studio with multiple cameras, audio and video instant feedback and interactive computer-assisted teaching system was used as a learning environment to deliver lessons and produce lesson plans simultaneously and consecutively in each production session. These lessons were then cablecast over public Cable TV following their production to facilitate review and preparation for further learning at home and for next live studio session.  Music, game playing, interactive role acting and 'on TV' celebrity consciousness were exploited in this pedagogy procedure which also made these lessons interesting to TV audience. The cablecast facility and cablecast provided a space-time-continuum learning environment for students from classroom to home study. Encouraging results and valuable lessons learned from this pedagogy project include fast learning, high motivation and effective retention for beginners in taking these Mandarin lessons and efficient lesson preparation, excellent teaching environment and total satisfaction with student behavior and performance for the teacher in delivering these Mandarin lessons.


*Author expresses appreciation to Cablevision company for provision of its Studio and Public Cablecast Channels



I.                    Introduction


Teaching Mandarin as a second language is a recent emphasis due to the world's increasing attention of its practical use for communication as well as of its uniqueness as a rich language with not only thousands of years of literal heritage but also with artistic and cultural attractions. Mandarin teaching, however, has its unique challenges and perceived difficulties, some of which may have caused by teachers. (ref.1 Mike Wright) The first perceived difficulty lies first in Mandarin's pronunciation which has some unique sounds that may be difficult to master. Due to vast number of Chinese dialects, Mandarin pronunciation can be challenging even to native Chinese, but this is a different issue from a linguistic point of view. Mandarin may not be any more difficult to learn compared with other languages. (ref. 2, John Pasden) However, the two major phonetic representation system for the non-alphabetical Mandarin, namely, Zhuyin (ref. 3 ) versus Pinyin (ref. 4), have distracted attention on the larger issue of pedagogy for teaching beginners Mandarin. The second difficulty lies in writing Mandarin characters  which are drastically different from an alphabetical language which limits learning to a small score of alphabets. Although Chinese characters are formed by so called 'strokes' or higher level 'radicals' into a square or rectangular shape, but their writings are very much varied in physical dimension as appearing in different characters as well as in varying form and style. This projects an image of hundreds of unique strokes to learn, perhaps even thousands to recognize, if all the nuances of artistic appearances in their writings or printed fonts were taking into account. This difficulty is somewhat compounded by the fact that the traditional Chinese characters have been systematically but necessarily logically simplified in recent six decades and used by a large perhaps younger generation Mandarin speaking people. The third difficulty, which may not be so unique to Mandarin, is its flexibility in grammar (ref. 5, Ross et al) especially in conversational Mandarin. This flexibility is inherited from historical and provincial cultural factors that exist in the Chinese dialects. Finally, the difficulty in reading Chinese or Mandarin literature from learning point of view is not merely the recognition of characters or vocabulary cited above about writing, rather it requires learning of phrases and idioms (ref. 6), which, formed by several characters, often carry with them a historical story with subtle implication of philosophical or metaphorical meaning very different from the meaning of the individual characters involved. These idioms and phrases are frequently used in literature and in conversation which present a challenge to Mandarin students. These above difficulties seem to cast Mandarin as a difficult language to beginners regardless of their age. Therefore, it begs an answer to the question whether the learning difficulty can be solved by an effective pedagogy despite of the above perceived difficulties.


Learning Mandarin as a second language is very different (ref. 7,8) from learning Mandarin as a first language or as a 'mother tongue' language since the learner usually has no benefit of any linguistic and/or cultural background associated with the Mandarin. (ref. 9, Massaro et al, research has shown that speech is not a pure auditory event; facial expression, gesture, and other cultural context contribute to the perception and understanding of speech) Unfortunately, in non-Mandarin speaking countries, many Chinese language schools were initially created to teach Chinese language to 'Chinese born students'. The teaching method developed for the first language learners naturally took advantage of their heritage of Chinese culture. The teaching environment is usually the traditional classroom. The teaching is often in varied styles without standard involving making corrections and improvements on students' inherited 'skills' in pronunciation and/or character writing. As more students enrolled in Chinese language schools are second language learners, the traditional teaching method is impractical. A new and formal pedagogy of teaching Mandarin as a second language is needed especially in teaching beginners pronunciation and recognition of Chinese characters.


This research is focused on the pedagogy for teaching beginners Mandarin. We emphasize the importance of the 'learning environment' which will be defined in next section along with our rationale of selecting teaching materials, methods and different approaches in section III. The pedagogy developed for teaching Mandarin in the cablecast facility is discussed in section IV and results of this experimental project will be presented in section V with conclusions in the final section.


II.   Defining The Effective Learning Environment


The premise of this research is based on one assumption, that is the learning environment is of utmost importance for teaching a second language. We define the learning environment as a continuum time and space where teaching and learning take place. We further define an effective learning environment as an environment in which learners feel comfortable, motivated and productive in learning. Then an effective pedagogy is the practice of teaching and learning in an effective learning environment yielding positive results.


A good teacher always understands the above but it is not an easy task to undertake especially in the subject of teaching Mandarin as a second language to beginners. This challenge is the motivation of our research. To develop an effective pedagogy for teaching beginners Mandarin, our second assumption is that exploiting technology may be the answer. Employing technology that is familiar to learners (best to be fond of  by learners)and apply them based on linguistic principles and learner psychology is the key to defining an effective and friendly learning environment.  


In this experimental project, we utilize a cablecast facility equipped with digital cameras, audio and video production system and added interactive computer and other learning aids as our learning environment. Fig. 1 shows a schematic of this learning environment. There are four digital cameras, a magnetic board, an interactive computer with monitor, microphones for teacher and students and electronic buzzers for game playing. The most important feature in this learning environment is the TV production and the cablecast systems. The teaching, learning and lesson preparation that go on in this facility is produced as TV programs and scheduled to be cablecast in the public TV channel. This latter capability enabled this cablecast facility to offer a space-time-continuum learning environment to the students. Their learning and lessons are recorded and broadcast to their homes by schedule as well as available on demand via DVD copies. We expected that the students would be strongly motivated in a learner friendly environment, so that they would develop a deep interest in Mandarin and learn Mandarin with rapid progress.


Given a technology supported friendly learning environment such as the cablecast facility, to develop an effective pedagogy is to develop a set of procedures for teaching and learning based on appropriately selected teaching material and methods fully compatible with this learning environment. In this experimental cablecast learning environment, we decided to teach both phonetic representation systems simultaneously and introduce both simplified and traditional Chinese characters as needed. We will employ music for teaching pronunciation and word games for teaching vocabulary and beyond. Since there has been some controversial debate on the selection of a phonetic representation system for beginners, we will discuss the rationale of our choice next.


III. Rationale in Selecting Both Phonetic Systems and Simplified and Traditional Characters   

We do recognize that the Zhuyin (ref. 3) and Pinyin (ref. 4) phonetic representation of Mandarin pronunciation are practiced in different Mandarin schools. We also realize that there are two groups of publishers of Mandarin  teaching materials, one based on simplified Chinese characters and one based on traditional Chinese characters. However, in this research project, we focus on the larger issue of developing an effective pedagogy for beginners. We feel that an effective pedagogy should be flexible in selecting teaching material and employing teaching methods.


The 37 Zhuyin symbols (Fig. 2) do offer a good handle of the Mandarin pronunciation except it requires the beginners to learn a set of unconventional symbols. For adult beginners, the symbols can be quickly recognized but does require effort to store them in memory in association with their pronunciation. For toddler beginners, the 37 symbols are more difficult to master than the 26 English alphabets, however, they can be quickly learned through music, like nursery rhymes. The Pinyin method (Fig. 3), on the other hand, uses English alphabets to represent the pronunciation of Mandarin which does eliminate the problem of introducing a set of unfamiliar symbols. However, the necessary changes of pronunciation of these Pinyin representation (combination of English alphabets) can confuse students who have already learned English alphabets and their pronunciation . This may be more troubling if the students are beginners in English and Mandarin at the same time. To adults, this confusion can be rationalized and clarified easily. They also can practice Pinyin using the Pinyin input method on an ordinary PC and keyboard which gives a strong incentive for learners to adopt Pinyin. 


Across the age spectrum, however, there are always personal preference in either method. The nursery rhyme song approach has been known to be successful in teaching pronunciation and it is independent of which phonetic representation to be adopted. Through singing and audio recognition, the Mandarin phonetics can be simply memorized. During singing and memorizing the phonetic sounds, a phonetic representation can be introduced. We decide to teach the Mandarin pronunciation by using a phonetic song but presenting both representations simultaneously in a flip chart (Fig. 4) for the students to sing and associate the corresponding phonetic symbols. The two systems are mapped in this chart. We let the student learn both phonetic systems to develop their own preference and master at least one. 


This rationale is further rooted in the following thinking. Teaching both representation would be the most doubling the effort,  increasing the phonetic elements to 74 (37 x 2). If an effective pedagogy is employed to teach phonetics, the effort might be drastically reduced. The benefit of learning two representations would open up more choices of learning materials and permit the students to progress faster with whichever phonetic representation they prefer or their subsequent teachers prefer.


The difficulty with recognition, retention and writing of Mandarin Characters is a challenge compounded by the choices of teaching simplified versus traditional characters. Our rationale to embrace both simplified and traditional characters to start with is a practical decision rooted in the consideration of the long term benefit for the learners. There are numerous teaching materials or textbooks based on either character set, some even adopting both. In the long run students need to learn from different levels of textbooks and eventually access classical and modern literature in both character systems.


For beginners, the limited vocabulary to be learned will not be overly increased by teaching both character sets since most characters are still the same. Recently, there is a trend for publishers to adopt both Zhuyin and Pinyin in their textbook whether they use simplified or traditional character set. Therefore, we elect to teach both character sets and both phonetic representation systems. We direct our focus on the learning environment and pedagogical methods conducive to beginners to develop high interest and efficient learning.


III. Pedagogy for Teaching Mandarin in the Cablecast Learning Environment 


Experience tells us that teaching phonetic sounds through singing songs and listening to audio CD or watching video DVD is very effective and it is totally compatible to the cablecast facility. Hence, we first teach the students the phonetic song by listening and singing with the music. At the same time, A wall chart of the Zhuyin and Pinyin phonetic systems mapped together (Fig. 4) is displayed in the studio during the lesson. The computer equivalent of the phonetic wall chart (Fig.4) is flashed into the recording system for the benefit of viewing audience in cablecast. The students practice singing at the beginning of every lesson, i.e. every TV production session. The student's singing appeared like a TV program theme music when watched on TV.


In addition to singing, we use a set of phonetic cards having both phonetic representation symbols to play pronunciation game. These cards represent initials, finals and tonal symbols of Mandarin. The cards are backed with a magnetic stripe so they can be displayed on the magnetic board for pronunciation games. The students are drilled through this game to learn the sound and symbols of initials and finals and learn to pronounce characters when the symbols are combined. These cards are also played between students on the table in a 'phonetic war' game similar to the 'war' game with Poker cards. Another game the students love to play is a 'word fish' game in which students sequentially fish symbols from each other then form and discard words (cards). The one first discarded all his or her pre-dealt cards wins. These games are fun to play and fun to watch hence are  adopted in our pedagogy to take advantage of the cablecast system.      


From students' singing and game playing we can see that these are effective pedagogical methods, hence, we feel that the game approach should be extended to learning of words, phrases, idioms and sentence constructions as well. Hence we set out to design some word games as part of our pedagogy.


The conventional teaching in Mandarin is simply too slow to hold learners interest. Typically, only a few characters are taught in a month often requiring repetitive drilling to achieve retention. For beginners, limited vocabulary limits their ability to use the vocabulary therefore the retention is poor. We believe that the word retention is best achieved through word usage. We propose to use a word game method to improve learning and to increase the rate of vocabulary retention. The word games are the avenue of 'usage' of words before they can have sufficient vocabulary to use them in real conversation and writing. As the learners progress, the games can be an effective tool for learning real conversation and writing as well. We shall describe below the basic element of the word games and a pedagogical approach of developing word games with students.


Our approach is to first design a universal blank word card and have students to create word cards on their own. The creation process holds students interest and gives them the opportunity to learn phonetics, words, phrases, idioms, homonyms etc. Fig. 5 shows a blank word card which is usually laid out in sheets for fill in and cut up. What are expected from students to do are shown in Fig. 6 as an example. As shown in Fig. 5, a word card is a rectangle with six defined spaces. Fig. 6 shows a student created word card; as an example,  the word, (Mandarin character, ), is written in the center grid space (1). The space above (2) is written with its Pinyin representation ( rén, second tone indicated ) and the space to the right (3) is written with its Zhuyin representation ( ㄖㄣˊ, second tone indicated). The space immediately below (4) is reserved for the word's equivalent in English (human, man or people) and the space below that (5) is reserved for common phrases or idioms derived from the Mandarin character ( 人民,人才 ). The sixth space (6) is in the diagonal reserved for a homophone or homonym if a homonym exists ( means kindness, humanity has the same sound as ). Alternatively, the same character's alternative tone can be indicated in space 6. as shown in Fig. 7  where  the character ( ) is written in the center grid space, ( hǎo, third tone indicated) is written in space (2), ( ㄏㄠˇ, third tone indicated) is written in space (3). Its English meaning (good; fine; nice) is written in space (4) and its common phrase (好吃, 好人, 言歸于好) is written in space (5).   Space six shows the 4th tone ( ˋ) . As 4th tone, ( , hào, ㄏㄠˋ ) means like or love as used in common phrases, 好客, 喜好, 好大喜功. The students can produce partially filled cards to begin with and fill them complete as they begin to learn more.


The rationale of using these word cards and word games in our pedagogy experiment is as follows. The concept of the above word card design allows students to not only create their own word cards for fun (and learning) but also to learn gradually more knowledge about the word and its usage (in games and in real language settings). Through the creation process and game playing, they learn, recognize and build Mandarin vocabulary and conversation skill. The cards allow students to learn both phonetic representations simultaneously and develop their preference. Finding and writing the phrases of a particular word into the card gives the students opportunity to extend their recognition of the single character to common usage of the character in phrases or idioms by reading other material or using a dictionary. Filling in the homonym and tonal change allows students to absorb more vocabulary and produce more cards for game playing.


For beginners, a set of phonetic cards of 37 Zhuyin symbols paired with corresponding Pinyin symbols on the same card is initially created for them to play games to master pronunciation. By desire to play and win, they will duplicate these phonetic cards as they realize they need more symbols to form different words. These phonetic cards can be mixed with the word cards to play games leading students to learn in progression from pronunciation to character recognition to phrases, idioms and sentence construction. Students are encouraged to make as many cards as they like for the benefit of playing word games and win points. Students seem to be willing to do that, similar to the phenomenon of desiring to own more Pokeman cards to win in Pokeman games.


As we rationalized our approach and adopted the singing and game playing as the pedagogical elements in our project, the remaining decision is to select a textbook for teaching Mandarin conversation. There are a great number of textbooks available but the selection should be really guided by who are the students. The content of the textbook must be age appropriate and culture matched. The best way is to develop the text content specifically for the students on hand. We can do that as enough vocabulary cards are created by students; the teacher can guide the game content to be specifically suited to the students. However, initially it is still more beneficial to have a text book to start with. For this purpose, we have selected the book, Speaking Mandarin in 500 Words by Prof. Liu Chi-Hua (ref. 10). The best feature of this book is that its CD format is designed to be computer interactive with audio output. The text is in conversational style and it is suitable for students to play role acting in Mandarin.


The textbook is used in conjunction with the word games. We have designed a set of basic word games (ref. 11) using these cards as shown in Fig. 8. The symbols and characters are really word cards described above. More games can be added when students have progressed in their learning. Students are encouraged to create word games by themselves. We basically call this pedagogy, MAG, make a game pedagogy. (ref.12) 


IV. Experimental Procedure and Pedagogical Techniques


Our experimental procedure may be simply outlined as follows:


1.    Selection of teaching material including phonetic rhyme song and interactive CD as well as preparing Zhuyin and Pingyin wall charts (ref. 13), Phonetic cards for games, and blank and sample word cards.

2.    Invite voluntary students by offering an introductory lesson conducted in the Cablecast studio explaining the teaching approach, teaching materials used, word card and word game concepts as well as the studio setting, TV production and Cablecast used for each lesson.

3.   Demonstrate the concept of extending the cablecast facility as a space-time-continuum

     learning environment for the students.

4.  Select students and begin a series of teaching lessons starting phonetics and pronunciation to conversational Mandarin using the interactive CD textbook. In the studio, students can converse with computer or with each other by picking a role to play as prescribed in the conversation text.

5.    Each lesson is conducted in the Cablecast studio during which time the next lesson is planned and outlined. Each lesson is then broadcast over a public TV channel with DVD copy made for students to watch.

6.    Students watch the cablecast program and self study at home. Students review and improve themselves with the previous lesson and produce word cards needed for the next lesson plan.


Although we started with a preconceived procedure but we were flexible in progressing  with our teaching. Depending on how fast students learn and able to produce their own vocabulary cards as well as how they perform in the studio interacting with computer and peers, we adjust our 'teaching/learning' speed by assigning more or less 'homeplay' (not homework) to make more or less word cards and play more or less word games at home. Each student is expected to watch their own TV show each week and work with their DVD as needed. The interactive computer learning CD is also given to students to review and practice while watching their own TV program.


The TV production session always starts with the phonetic rhyme song which is like a theme song for the TV program. This helps the students to memorize the phonetics fairly quickly allowing them to map the pronunciation in their head with either Zhuyin or Pinyin representation. Before each lesson, the class always sings the phonetic rhyme song together with a phonetic wall chart or a chart on the TV monitor. Then follows with role playing conversation learning.  Next the word games are then played. All lessons in the cablecast studio are real video production sessions, later cablecast without editing. The intent is to show the students the real proceedings of their learning, the fun part as well as how much progress they have made and where they need to make corrections.


Two different ways are employed to play the word games. First way is played on a large magnetic board with magnetic word cards. The phonetic card game is usually played this way. The teacher places randomly phonetic cards on the magnetic board and let students respond by pronouncing it or making a combination of initials and finals to make a word. This game can be extended from pronunciation to word creation to phrase creation use only the phonetic cards or combined with word cards. Alternatively this game is played on the table with students sitting around the table.  The second method requires more cameramen to capture the game playing. However, many variety of word games can be played this way using students' own word cards. Several games particularly popular to students are “Scrammble Chinese' (Fig. 8, game 4), Connecting Dragon' (Fig. 8, Game 2 ) and 'Scrammble Add'. (Fig. 8, game 5). These games are derived from Scrammble word games for English. (ref.14, 15)




In this experiment, role playing by students to learn the conversational Mandarin fits very well in the TV production scheme of conducting lessons. This also makes the TV program more interesting to watch later by the students and by the general audience. The technique of learning Mandarin through various word games  is also very compatible in the cablecast methodology. Watching the TV programs containing these games are far more entertaining than watching a traditional language lesson.


V. Experimental Results and Discussion


Like every experiment, we have made assumptions with expectation of getting positive results. In our experiment, what astonished us was many unexpected positive results are realized.  Some are qualitative observations and some are quantitative evidence. We itemize them below:


1.    We expected that students would concentrate better in the cablecast facility and TV production proceedings but also we were concerned whether one hour Video production might be too long for young students (One hour lesson plus audio and video set-up time is more like 90 minutes). Indeed, we did observe excellent student behavior in the studio, perhaps due to their awareness being video recorded for TV broadcast like a celebrity. However, what went beyond our expectation is the students' high spirit and diligence in playing their role, engaging in games and eagerness in producing word cards for subsequent lessons.

2.    We were not absolutely certain whether teaching pronunciation with two phonetics representation is a good idea. We expected to settle on one if the students showed  their preference or to ease into one over the other. However, through out the process, no one had complained about having to write two systems on their word cards. They seemed to accept the fact that the symbols are helpful for them to recognize words and their pronunciation. Perhaps we should probe the question further which representation was used more in their cognition of Mandarin words and pronunciation, but it seemed unnecessary for this experiment.

3.    We had expected that, using interactive CD to teach conversational Mandarin, would yield good results and would allow students to study on their own easier. Indeed this was the case. However, since the TV studio lessons were broadcast later for students to watch in live TV program or through a DVD copy, it seemed that the value of the interactive CD would be more for drilling and practices in self study. As for teaching, the teacher could adopt any appropriate conversation material during lesson time and let the students learn them by role playing with teacher's guidance. In fact, letting students create their own 'teaching material' based on the new vocabulary they cumulated through word card creation seems to stimulate students more than the conversational text on CD.

4.    We had planned to conduct 8 to 10 sessions to cover enough material so that the students would get over the basic chasm of learning Mandarin (in pronunciation and simple conversation and recognition of words in the conversation). It turned out, in seven sessions, we had achieved our objective and far beyond. The students quickly learned the pronunciation through the phonetic song. The students were able to  absorb a dozen or so new vocabulary in earlier lesson and much more in subsequent lessons. This can be attributed to their 'homeplay' assignment to create the new vocabulary cards on their own for the next lesson. They get reinforced during the lesson and afterwards through watching their lesson on TV and most effectively through playing word games.

5.    We had expected game playing to be an effective technique to teach Mandarin just like in many other subjects. We have created some basic games (Fig. 8) and introduced them in studio sessions. What inspired the students and the teacher is that more games can be created by the class jointly by the teacher and students. For example, each student randomly picks five cards from each's own cards (each student uses a  different color paper to create word cards) and then requests words from the next student from his or her word card pile to make a phrase with the cards in hand. If the request was granted (means there was such a card), the student could lay down the phrase he intended to make. If the request was denied (means he or she did not have the requested card), the turn was passed on to the next student. The student first able to lay down all his or her cards with correct right phrases wins. This game was created  during the studio session and well liked by students. This game gives students incentive to try to remember what cards other students made and what can be combined with their own word cards to make phrases. This game was also modified to play sentence construction. The great results obtained with this type of game playing in the cablecast scheme is a strong endorsement that our experiment may have found a real effective pedagogy for teaching beginners Mandarin.

6.    Initially we did have concern that this pedagogy might present too much burden on the teacher in preparing lessons. As we continued on with the experiment, we discovered that the requirement on the teacher was simply his or her interest and enthusiasm, the lesson planning, card creation and word games could be done mostly by students and for their own benefits. As for the Cablecast facility, it is nice to have a professional level studio, but the entire concept can be implemented with today's inexpensive home video and computer equipment with one assistant. The key is to be creative in conducting and preparing lesson plans to suit the students.


VI. Conclusions


The cablecast facility has provided us an environment and opportunity to develop an effective pedagogy for teaching beginner Mandarin. The experiment is considered successful as evidenced by:


1.    Fast learning: students learned phonetic pronunciation quickly and were able to absorb far more vocabulary to carry conversation than traditional classroom teaching.

2.    Effective retention: students through creating their own teaching materials and lessons can retain more effectively what they have learned.

3.    High motivation: the novel setting, appealing to students' familiarity with computer and fondness of TV, gives the students great motivation to learn and excel.

4.    Teaching satisfaction: the excellent student behavior, the ease of preparing lesson plan and highly efficient multimedia teaching environment gives the teacher great satisfaction in seeing positive results in student learning.


This experiment did not attempt to teach Mandarin writing although a special writing paper was designed and offered to students. The word cards made by student often contain stroke errors need to be corrected by the teacher or require esthetic improvements to make them look nice. However, we are extremely encouraged by the overall results in  student achievements in learning conversation Mandarin. Hence we are contemplating to incorporate games to practice stroke, radical, character and sentence writing into this pedagogy for teaching beginners Mandarin.




1. Mike Wright, Is learning Mandarin Difficult?

2.  John Pasden on pronunciation

3.    Introduction to Zhuyin

4.    Introduction to Pingyin

5. Claudi Ross and Jing-Leng Sheng Ma, Modern Mandarin Grammar, Routledge, 2006, Taylor & Francis eLibrary, 2006

6.    Introduction on Chinese Idioms

7.  Ifay F. Chang, Issues with Mandarin Education in United States and Its Impact to East-West Cultural Exchange (Powerpoint Slides) 2010 American Chinese School Association Annual Meeting, Invited Talk, May 29 2010

8.  Ifay F. Chang, Challenges of Teaching (The Graduating Class) in Chinese Language School-Full Paper (Presented at American Chinese School Annual Meeting 2006)

9.  Massaro et. al., A multilingual Embodied Conversational Agent for Tutoring Speech and Language Learning, Interspeech 2006

10.  Lin Chi-Hua, Speaking Mandarin in 500 Words, 2004, National Cheng Chi University

11.  Ifay F. Chang, Pedagogy for Teaching Mandarin with Cablecast Facility, 2010

12. Pinyin Charts, HANBAN, Beijing, China

13. Ifay F. Chang, Make A Game Pedagogy, 2005

14. Ifay F. Chang, Passport to Scrammble Land, Publisher TLC Information Services, 2001, ISBN 0-9771594-0-X

15. Ifay F. Chang, Producer, Scrammble Game Show, a weekly TV game show since 2006, presently cablecast over Westchester and Putnam Counties in the State of New York.





















Zhuyin Phonetic Representation

Initials: ㄅㄆㄇㄈㄉㄊㄋㄌㄍㄎㄏㄐㄑㄒㄓㄔㄕㄖㄗㄘㄙ

Finals:  ㄚㄛㄜㄝㄞㄟㄠㄡㄢㄣㄤㄥㄦㄧㄨㄩ

Tones:  ˙ˊˇˋ

Fig. 2 Zhuyin Phonetic Representation



Hanyu Pinyin Phonetic Representatio

Initials:  b p m f d t n l g k h j q x zh ch sh r z c s

Finals:   a o e ê ai ei ao ou an en ang er yi(-i) wu(-u) yu(-ü)

Tones:   ˙ˊˇˋ

Fig. 3 Hanyu Pinyin Phonetic Representation




Fig. 4 Wall Chart Mapping Zhuyin and Pinyin





























1 – Gr idded area for one Mandarin Character

2 – Pinyin representation

3 – Zhuyin Representation

4 – English equivalent for the character and for its homonyms if any

5 – Mandarin phrases using the character

6 – Selected homophone words

Fig. 5   Scrammble Mandarin Blank   







Man, person, people



1 – Mandarin Character

2 – Pinyin representation

3 – Zhuyin Representation

4 – English equivalent for the character and for its homonyms if any

5 – Mandarin phrases using the character

6 – Selected homonym word

Fig. 6   Scrammble Mandarin Word   

























Good, fine, nice

like; love




1 – Mandarin Character

2 – Pinyin representation

3 – Zhuyin Representation

4 – English equivalent for the character and for its homonyms if any

5 – Mandarin phrases using the character

6 – Selected homophone words

Fig. 7   Scrammble Mandarin Word   


Game 1

Spell words with Pinyin/Zhuyin Cards, for example,

Chi ->      he ->

ㄈㄢˋ-> ㄊㄤ ->

Game 2

Make phrases with character cards, for example,

- 我們   

- 學生, 學校, 教學

Game 3

Make Sentences, for example,


Game 4

Adding words and make into longer sentences:

教師教學生 -> 教師教好學生

我們學校很好 + , , ->  我們學校的老師很好

Game 5

Adding words and scramble into longer sentences:

老師教好學生 + ->

教師老, 學生 

+ , ->

學生不好, 教師才會

+ ,

學生教不好, 才會是老師差

Fig. 8   Basic Scrammble Mandarin  

         Word Games