Learning a language can be hard, but it is a worthwhile experience that can embody both the language and culture of another country. In CSU Bakersfield’s Chinese I class we got a taste of how learning a language can be a cultural experience as students got to make dumplings as they learned more words and phrases.
This was all on May 8, where students in the Chinese I class gathered for their Mandarin dumpling demonstration class in the Break Room.
Charlene Hu, the instructor of the class, spoke of how students were the ones to decide on what they wanted to learn in this event or class, and they had been waiting a while for the demonstration to take place.
She said that in this class it is not just about making dumplings, but it’s also about engaging students in a way that makes them have fun as they learn Chinese. She illustrated how students were given instructions in Chinese, so that if they wanted to make dumplings later, they would get to practice Chinese outside of the classroom.
In the class, students got a hands-on experience as Hu guided them through the steps of making dumplings. The steps involved kneading the dough onto flour until dough was no longer sticky, and then rolling them into long pieces, so they can cut them into smaller pieces.
From there, they needed to press the smaller pieces into circles, so they can use a roller to spread them out in as perfect a circle as they could.
They would then fill the dumpling with either pork filling or peanut butter as dumplings can have any filling. Then they would have a pot ready with oil or water to cook the dumplings, and when dumplings rose to the top, they were ready to be picked out and eaten. Throughout the process students laughed and interacted with Hu and fellow students in both languages allowing students to really get into the experience.
This process happened throughout the class as students tried to perfect their dumpling making skills, and students had a lot to say about this experience.
Gabriella Salazar, a double major in chemistry and communications, said, “It’s been interesting,” and that she would definitely make them again.
Gio Agcaoili, a computer engineering major, said, “It’s a great experience it’s like something you’ve never done before it’s like when you’re a kid and you see something new. ‘Oh, I want to try it, I want to touch it, I want to practice making it.’ ”
Students had many positive things to say about the class, itself, and they let their opinions be known.
Bryan Gutierrez spoke of how close he was with all his classmates because of the small class size and amount of communication they had with one another.
Hu told us of how the class communicated outside of the classroom using WeChat where they had a group chat. Hu said that “participation in the classroom is wonderful” talking of how students got to learn in a variety of ways such as learning Chinese songs, writing Chinese addresses, and many other ways.
Hu remarked that “We’re going to do this again” when asked if she would have activities like this for future Chinese classes.