The Story of Chinese Characters
May 08

The Story of Chinese Characters

This project is a practice of flipped classroom assisted by the use of a series of educational videos. It was implemented as part of the degree courses of intermediate level Mandarin Chinese in both Trinity College Dublin (2017-2018) and University College Dublin (2015-2017), and the Mandarin Chinese teacher training programme at University College Dublin (2015-2017). 

Through the practice of Mandarin Chinese teaching and learning over the past few years, the authors of this project discovered that Irish Chinese learners demonstrated a weakness in the initial cognition and consistent memorisation of Chinese characters, especially at an intermediate level of learning. As a result, the authors created a set of videos to assist learners' comprehension of Chinese characters, to regulate the quantity and quality of character studies, and to provide multiple sources of memorisation links to each of the individual character that involved in the project. 

The 12 Youtube videos covered 110 most important Chinese characters selected by their frequency in usage and/or in constructing other characters as building blocks at the current level of Mandarin Chinese learning in a certain educational language domain. The flipped classroom model is to distribute the links to the Youtube videos ahead of the classroom. Learners were requested to self-study the content of the video prior to the class, so that the instructor could proceed to practice and check-up during the class hours. 

Each video is created for about 20-25 minutes which covers 10 Chinese characters. The video first introduces the origin of a modern Chinese character, the meaning of the original script and a picture that associated with the original meaning. Then it proceeds to explain the modern script, the logic of its construction and some tips on how to memorise the character. In the end, 3-5 frequently used Chinese words which contains the character are explained to build up the links between characters and vocabulary. It also helps to demonstrate the importance of the character as well as its learning. 

During the class, a certain period of time was given to learners to raise questions regarding their understanding of the video, and a quick check-up was performed to ensure the result of the learning. Learners were typically asked to write down and explain some randomly selected characters and explain how they memorise them and also list the words that associated with the character.

Target language
Mandarin Chinese
Intermediate (B)
Beginning date
14 / 09 / 2015
End date
20 / 04 / 2018
Created by
Trinity Centre for Asian Studies, Trinity College Dublin (IE)
Implemented at
Trinity College Dublin (IE)
University College Dublin (IE)
- Higher Education - Teacher Training
Educational technologies and tools
- MOOCs, NOOCs and SPOOCs [Coursera, edX, MiriadaX, Udacity, etc.] - Social networks [Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+, etc.] - Audiovisual media development and implementation [audio (podcasts, etc.) and video (dubbing and subtitling), etc.] - Asynchronous and synchronous computer-mediated communication [videoconference, Hangouts, Skype, email, forums, social networks, etc.]
Teaching methods
- Face-to-face learning/blended learning/online learning - Lectures/(Hands-on) practice/Internships/Community service/Seminars/Oral presentations/Group discussions - Autonomous learning
Contact information
Chang ZHANG (
PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics

Trinity Centre for Asian Studies &
Centre for Language and Communication Studies
School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences
Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin
Dublin 2, Ireland.
How to cite this best practice?
Zhang, Chang. (2015). "The Story of Chinese Characters". Online: Repositorio FOCO [21-09-2019].