Case Study: Teaching Mandarin remotely in Spain

Many of you will know Elliot from his workshops at our Annual Conference. He is currently working in Spain and has kindly shared us with the steps he has taken to adapt his teaching to ensure students can continue to learn Mandarin remotely while schools are closed down due to the COVID-19 outbreak.


Step 1 = Decide on a topic that you originally wanted to do on the SoW.

*NO need to drastically change the original SoW created for the rest of the academic year, however…

*DO incorporate current and trending issues/topics to make the learning content relevant to the students. For example:

  • COVID-19 pandemic (Naturally! But please be flexible to differentiate!)
  • Easter vs Qingming Festival (currently happening soon!)

Step 2 = Give vocabulary and sentence structures for students to look for, then provide feedback/corrections.

*For example:

  • ‘Please find the meaning of ‘….的时候 / + adjective
  • Please find the vocabulary for the following list, related to Easter and Qingming Festival’…

Step 3 = Give quizzes based on their commonly made mistakes and generally what you would want them to learn in Step 2.

*Use various communication tools to communicate with and remind students of the common misconceptions from Step 2.

*Quiz them on the most-commonly-made mistaken vocabulary and any learning content in Step 2. This is quite important for teachers to identify, at this stage, which students are correctly acquiring and genuinely retaining the ‘researched’ knowledge.

Step 4 = Cultural research on a few key questions, which will involve vocabulary/sentence structures they would have acquired in Steps 2 and 3.

*For example:

  • ‘Find 5 words or sentence structures you can use for Easter.’
  • ‘In a few sentences, briefly explain what Qingming Festival is.’
  • ‘What is the ONE THING IN COMMON between Easter and Qingming festival.’

Step 5 = Writing / Speaking / Reading task(s) they can do, applying their knowledge of language and culture. 

*Be creative! This could be:

  • a traditional writing task with bullet points (GCSE or IB/A-Level exam styles)
  • a reading or listening comprehension (a good chance to embed it into Google Classroom for an auto-marked quiz!)
  • a speaking task, asking them to record a few sentences applying the grammar points and vocabulary they should have acquired from previous ‘Steps’.

Step 6 = Project / presentation they can deliver to conclude the topic, applying the work they should have produced in Step 5.

*They could be extended and refined versions of the work produced in Step 5. Formats could depend on which skill(s) teachers would like to emphasise.

Step 7 = Overall mark for the topic, combining the continuous assessment opportunities from Steps 2 onwards.


Using Google Classroom? 

Check out the link below for the guide of how to use this tool:

Here are some tips of how to use it in the virtual classroom, based on what I’ve learned so far:

1 = Setting tasks

 *Set ‘bite-size’ and realistic amount of work for each task.

*Use the ‘submission deadline’ function to set expectation of students’ speed of work.

*Create ‘continuous assessment’ opportunities in each ‘bite-size’ task.

*Apply other Google tools/ platforms to create a variety of task type (e.g. incorporate Google Doc, Google Forms).

*Apply non-Google based online platforms to ‘spice up’ the task types (e.g. WordWall, Edupuzzle, YouTube etc.) Most of these alternative platforms are Google Classroom-friendly and can be embedded into set tasks in Google Classroom.

*Record your PowerPoint (as if you were to use it in a real classroom, so you could add your voice explanation and annotations, for students who may need further support).

2 = Feedback of the tasks

*Traditional submission of the tasks – use ‘comment boxes’ just like when you try to edit and feedback a student’s work on Word, PDF, scanned picture file, etc.

*Reduce your marking time! Smartly incorporate Google Forms and other alternative platforms to create quizzes, games which could be auto marked and even directly transfer the scores to be embedded to your Google Classroom marksheets.

3 = Communicating with students/ parents

 *Google Classroom instant messages in each Classroom and under each set task – for immediate ‘task queries.’

*Email – for situations where students ‘cannot access the computer/iPad’ and may need alternative + traditional worksheet-based tasks. It is recommended to email them in advance with ‘back-up’ tasks, in case of days without internet at all! (e.g. ‘Days of the Week Schedule with School Subjects + Hobbies’ worksheet print-out’).

 *Google Hangout Meet ( – for regular or irregular ‘face-to-face’ online tutorials in real-time. Great for pastoral care too if you are also a form tutor!

*Alternative platform for communication – I have used the conventional Skype and WeChat with Sixth-Form students for video tutorials by appointments.

4 = Collecting assessment data

 *Each task is a small piece of evidence for the final grade of the term/semester! Be flexible as long as it is justifiable and transparent to the students!

*Reading and Writing skills are more straight-forward for collecting the assessment evidence.

*Be creative with Listening and Speaking assessments, for example:

  • Upload a sound file / YouTube clip for a Listening task, incorporated in a Google Form Quiz or Worksheet;
  • Set up a task for students to upload recording files of their speech in audio or video forms;
  • With permission of the students + guardians, record the sound or video tutorial when using Google Hangout Meet or other video tutorial tools.


Inspired by what you’ve read? Got questions for Elliot? Feel free to contact him email at either or