Enhancing Learning

Exploiting cognition through Semantic Knowledge Management and writing practices

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The stories contained in this blog are narrative texts that I wrote in China over a period of eighteen months. The purpose of this “writing compositions” activity was the conscious appropriation of basic language patterns and vocabulary through creation of situational frames (or mental images) in which to capture the highest number of relevant terms and syntactic structures. Rather than express creativity writing, this exercise aimed to maximize the memorization of terms thanks to the exploitation of emotional connections through a personal constructed reality.

Due to the fact that the stories have been written over a time-spam of several months, the stories present a different grade of linguistic difficulty. Some stories in the section Expatriates life (e.g. Free time activities in the metropolis) or Travelling China (e.g. A trip to Hangzhou) are simple in vocabulary and plane in syntax. Others, like the XXX in the introductive section China today, are formal in register and scientific in style. In order to facilitate the identification of the language level, each story has been assigned to its respective level as defined in the European Language Framework (from A1 to C2).

In order to follow the progression of learning, it would have been advisable to order the stories in temporal sequence. Nevertheless, I opted for an order according to a subject matter considering that there could be readers more interested in the cultural and geographical information rather than in the language.

This book is thematically divided into six sections.
The section China today reports on information, facts and particularities about land, climate and the people of China. I wrote about this topic as I myself did know a little about the comprehensive geography of China, so I thought a brief introduction would be adequate for the majority of readers which wish to get an introduction in the geographical and political aspects of this continent. I completed this section with the support of updated data.

In the section Shanghai I present general information about weather, means of transport and the city’s past and future development, topics whose relevance and particularities have fascinated me throughout my staying in China and acted as mental map for the discovery of the metropolis.

In the section Expatriates life I give some examples about the way I organised my life in Shanghai. I will talk about the encountered difficulties, e.g. finding a comfortable apartment, choosing a language school or buying food. Data and facts in this section are based exclusively on my personal life experience in Shanghai, so they may differ considerably with the life’s experience of other expatriates.
In the section Travelling Asia I collected travel reports about cities and regions I visited in China. As I am used to plan my travels without the support of travel guidebooks or travel agencies, my recounts will eventually talk about places other travellers may not have visited, or even miss important travel destinations. Nevertheless, I am sure you will find my notes worth reading and through them acquire a first impression of the lands I travelled through and the people I have met.
In the section Culture I present aspects of the Chinese culture, such as the art of drinking tea or the shadow opera, that have fascinated throughout my staying in China and have relieved with peace and serenity my lonliness in the city.

The final section Chinese Cinema is dedicated to 风小刚 and 歌优, the first a famous Chinese director and the second an equally famous Chinese actor. Their movies have not only cheered me up during my time in China, but also helped me to submerge myself into the Chinese language, culture and history, while understanding the globalisation tendencies in modern Chinese society. I would warmly suggest teachers to integrate these movies in language teaching and intercultural exchange scenarios, as they contain many interesting points for discussion.

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