Teaching the Ventriloquist’s Daughter (4)

We are delighted that our Teaching Consultant and Advisory Board member Dr Theresa Munford, of St Gregory’s School in Bath, has created a blog series for us on the practicalities of using an authentic text to create a Y10 scheme of work. The text she has chosen is The Ventriloquist’s Daughter by Lin Man-chiu, translated by Helen Wang.

Part 4. 22nd  June 2018

Lesson 4:  Talking about Pictures


The new GCSE emphasises spontaneous speaking over the kind of rehearsed speaking in the controlled assessments of the old specification.  Students will be expected to talk about and frame questions about a picture in their Y11 GCSE exam.  The delightful illustrations in the Chinese publication of the Ventriloquist’s Daughter (sadly not in the translated version) are an ideal way of practising this.

I chose the listening exercise as it continues with my plan to dip into The Chairman’s Bao for stories about South and Central America and this particular one has some key GCSE vocabulary such as ‘wedding’ —  plus it’s quite amusing!

Finally, every week they get a vocabulary test so running through the Quizlet is a good way to remind them of the words they’ll be tested on this coming Monday.


The story of the Argentinian bride certainly held their interest and they were able to catch lots of key vocabulary (朋友, 看见了, 想, 给她) and also to look at new and useful words (教堂, 新娘, 婚礼, 参加)。  We ended up spending longer on it than planned (but I think listening is so important I don’t mind this), not only because of the importance of some of the vocabulary but also because it led into some interesting discussion about how we learn words. One student was trying to work out what word it was that she kept hearing and wasn’t sure of the meaning. Once we’d worked that out 朋友, I played them this interesting insight into listening and how our brains assimilate new words。  This helped her understand why, once she knew what the word was, she always heard it correctly after that
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/06/sounds-you-cant-unhear/373036/.  (In fact, one of the students knew of a link to another a similar sound file that does the same thing and shared it with us)

The key phrase that they should become very familiar with for the GCSE will be


Once we moved onto the pictures, they got lots of practice with that phrase.  They produced simple but good sentences and discussing these gave me opportunities to reinforce grammar such as sentence order, appropriate measure words.  I was particularly pleased that one student automatically asked me what the measure word for flower might be because she wanted to say ‘ Liur’s little brother is in a flower’)