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Chinese teaching tips in Moravia

Three days of lectures about teaching Chinese, curtesy of Chinet, had me travel to Palacky university in Olomouc eastern Czech. My interest had been especially aroused when I learned that most of the presentations were to be given by staff from the university in Taiwan at which I studied twenty years ago.


The first session of each of the three days concerned perfecting Mandarin pronunciation. For this purpose the teacher recorded we participants speaking a short passage of Mandarin, and then demonstrated the use of two computer programs that analyse speech, and indicate how to improve pronunciation. One, named PRAAT is freely available for download , the other MyCT (my Chinese Tutor) is not so.

The afternoon lecture of the first day focused on ‘non-stress’ in Mandarin pronunciation. Hana Triskova of Palacky university explained that teachers emphasising teaching the four ‘tones’ of syllables spoken in Mandarin are in danger of ignoring the important fact that within a sentence only some syllables and words are pronounced with full enunciation of their tone/tones. Ignoring stress and non-stress in speaking Mandarin can produce robotic-sounding utterances, and these will not be readily understood by Mandarin-speaking listeners.

The grand, baroque architecture of this university city of Olomouc is a tourist draw. Amongst the city’s landmarks is one of the 1052 properties comprising Unesco’s World Heritage List – the Holy Trinity Column – “In the characteristic regional style known as Olomouc Baroque, it is the most outstanding example of a type of monument specific to central Europe. ”

Not really my cup of tea, I was more interested in the strange design of the figures within the Upper Square’s Arion fountain. One of them is a man with a dolphin; more appear in the slideshow of images below.

A caption for each of the ten images will appear when the cursor moves onto each.