The BBC has great resources for learning a whole range of languages accessible from their home page for languages . The materials for learning Chinese are no exception and include their 10 part introduction to Mandarin: Real Chinese.
This consists of a slide show with key language, cultural tips, notes on pronunciation and grammar and video clips for each of 10 topics which are essentially practical in nature and ideal preparation for any trip to China. I’ll be heading off to China for 10 days in July with some of my Year 12s so I have used some of the video clips both to introduce a topic such as “ordering” drinks” and also as comprehension practice. They have also found the cultural insights from the video clips fascinating.
Although the vocabulary in “useful phrases” section of each topic of Real Chinese is in pinyin rather than in characters, there is a mini guide introducing characters which provides a succinct introduction to this fascinating subject. In the games section of the site you can learn how to write some characters and practise writing some yourself.
The video clips from Real Chinese are also available in the BBC’s Learning Zone Broadband Class Clips library where you can search for short clips by level (Primary or Secondary) and by key word. This library is particularly useful for finding video material on cultural background as each clip is tagged with key words and suggestions as to how it could be used in class.
A tour in Beijing for example teaches some simple vocabulary for directions whilst at the same time introducing some of the key landmarks in Beijing.