Meet the Zodiac Family Plus More

  Today, I'm going to share a quick tip on how I preteach zodiac animals waaaaaay before the Chinese Spring Festival.  By the time we reach the point for the Legend of Chinese Zodiac, students are familiar with most of the animals already.  Sounds amazing, right?! How?  You might ask! Well, simple!  When I co-create stories with students in class, after the first month, I switch my main characters in the story from human to animal. In this photo, you will meet Panda King, Tuzi Phil, Xiaozhu Wilber, Houzi Suzie, Houzi Joey, and Longxia Sophie. If you are thinking about...

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Color-Symbol- Image: I Want A Little Brother

I want a little brother is the fourth book in Willy Goat: Not Easy to Be a Child series. It's been a while since I wrote last time.  The negative impact of COVID-19 still pretty much overwhelms my daily life and teaching.  After washing, ironing cloth masks for 18 months, just last week, I switched to wearing disposable blue surgical masks because I'm so tired of doing the washing and ironing weekly. Teaching with a mask is no longer a news item.  The challenge remains the same, but it has been embraced as a new "normal".  Still facing all the...

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Willy Goat: not easy to be a child

Willy Goat: not easy to be a child

Why is “Willy Goat” unique? Willy Goat is the second text book series to be published by Ignite Chinese that is specifically written for Teaching with Comprehensible (TCI) based instructions and Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) practitioners.  The Willy goat series have been written in a style that combines the characteristics of Dr. Krashen’s work, learning and the brain, with children’s developmental stages.  At the start of the story, our main character, Willy, is a preschooler.  Gradually, throughout the story he grows older. Willy Goat is just like every other kid in the world; he faces daily challenges...

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How Do You Do Today?

What we are going through is so unprecedented.  While teaching online reinstalls a form of normality, at the same time, it reminds us how unusual the whole situation has been.  Watching the COVID19 cases and victims increase each day, when US's death toll easily crossed over 10,000 while key politicians are still playing a game of self-worship and personal gain, any reasonable and conscious person would feel the pain, frustration, anger, desperation, hopelessness... inside.  And at the same time, we must be the anchor for our students. I haven't felt so much tension in my shoulders since I started meditating...

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Guess Who Online: Who’s the Thief?

By Pu-mei Leng: Once we are online, I realize the input activities need to be shortened and students will need to speak more simply because they need to talk. When Lu laoshi showed me her new version of the old mafia game, I was excited. She said that we can simply use private chat to assign the roles to students. I was eager to test it out with my students. To play a game is a privilege in my class. I do not play very often and they will have to listen to the story carefully.  And I usually play...

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Addressing xenophobia

By Pu-mei Leng I still feel the need for addressing the issue of Xenophobia in the Chinese classes even though our students are stressed and even depressed now. For my lower-level classes, instead of discussing and debating the issues directly, I only focused on a simple message: intentionally or unintentionally, discrimination and prejudice hurt people. In a crisis we are facing, we do not need to hurt more people. I believe my students can get this simple message. What I did was to come up with a simple storyline: A panda was sad and hurt because people call the virus...

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Wait, Google Meet? What about Small Group Activities and Interactive Collaboration?

By Haiyun Lu The preparation for teaching online is ramping up in my school.  The tech department and administrators have been super supportive.  At the same time, they have also provided an overwhelming amount of information regarding teaching online.  Supports, protocols, challenges, and unforeseen complications... have been pushed out on a regular basis.  This morning, I had three hours' meeting back-to-back online.  Boy, my eyes got so fatigued to a point of getting watery. I guess you have been reading tons of information regarding teaching online as well.  I'm going to keep this post short and simple. We will be...

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Classroom Jobs Going Online

By Haiyun Lu Many of you around the globe have already dabbled in different platforms for teaching online.  I saw many posts sharing challenges, stresses, ideas, suggestions and success.  We are starting first day of online teaching tomorrow.  I have been thinking about the need and the importance of creating an online community.  I hope to bring in the wonder of classroom jobs online.  May this post be a conversation starter for us to all chime in sharing and contributing ideas.  Since I haven't started teaching online yet, I have no expert opinion to offer yet. En comparación con el...

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The Daily Pandemic Report

By Pu-mei Leng Our school had two half-day classes for us to get used to online teaching and last Friday (March 27) was my first day of whole day class. I watched CNN to check the pandemic numbers in the morning before the class. And I made a quick slide intend to teach the current event. As I was teaching, I realize it is the best time to teach Chinese big numbers as a routine as long as we are having online school.  The big number in Chinese is confusing to students as we all know. I usually teach big...

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How Are You Feeling Today?

It was close to midnight, my son still struggled to fall asleep.  He asked me to snuggle with him.  I laid down on the floor on his home camping spot since my niece took over his bedroom, and a friend is staying with us and taking over the guest room.  I wrapped one arm around his tommy, he bursted into sobs. "I'm so lonely.  My friends are the only ones who understand me in my world.  I can't see them with my own eyes."  He complained.  "Awwww, baby!  Didn't you FaceTime them for three hours today?"  I knew this kind...

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Listen & Draw

Many students like to doodle, especially when they are given an opportunity to be creative, imaginative and novel. Listen and Draw is one of our shared favorite activities in class.  We love it for several reasons. If there is not a time to finish a story, "Listen and Draw" is a perfect way to recap what has happened so far. A screenshot of the "Listen and Draw" provides a perfect visual clue for a homework assignment:  a. Either looking at the illustration and telling the story b. Or looking at the illustration to speed write It is a novel way...

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谁是#Coronavirus的第一个“吹哨人”?

从除夕夜起,哥哥每天都会在家里的群里发关于新冠状病毒的消息。有时候是关于国家的规定,有时候是关于疫情的教育,有时候是对疫情的追踪。从所有的信息里,都在告诫大家一定要把心静下来,管住嘴,管住腿,为了国家,为了老百姓的安全待在家里。如果不得不出门,一定要戴上口罩,戴上帽子,戴上手套,回到家,外面穿的衣服都要消毒。 嫂子在当地政府部门工作,跟家里其他人相反,天天都要早出晚归,到各个小区去探访,特别是听说有从武汉打工回家过年的人,天天都去追踪他们的体温,询问他们的症状,还要做好他们的隔离工作。直到没有发现异样,才会转到另一个小区去。 家人的信念是“众志成城”,大家一起齐心协力,这个难关中国的老百姓肯定会再次挺过。 与此同时,很多西方媒体开始拿中国处理疫情的速度跟一个理想中的完美速度相比。在很多西方社会也掀起了对华人歧视的报道,对华人歧视的行为和语言。很少有人知道,中国的老百姓在为疫情的付出到底有什么,为了控制疫情,中国的老百姓都在做出什么牺牲。这里,我来给大家介绍两个中国的普通医生。一个叫李文亮,一个叫张继先。为了控制#新冠状病毒,他们做出的贡献都是无可非比的。 当我在收集这两位医生的信息的时候,我读了很多不同来源的消息。为了能够帮到对外汉语老师的忙,能够用更多的普通的中国人的故事让学生们更多,更全面地了解到中国老百姓在疫情猖狂下的生活,我尽量用最简单的文字来讲述他们的故事。在课堂上,我会采取的一个教学方法是由 Dr. Beniko Mason 发明的 "Story Listening".  在这里我跟大家分享一下。如果觉得有用,请自由转发。 这里是一个The Whistle Blower的文本。 祝福中国吧,也祝福中国的每一个老百姓。

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Up the Culture Game: Teaching Holiday Celebration Through Content-based Activities!

By Pu-mei Leng Spring Festival and Lantern Festival are coming up fast!  Read the following post to learn how Leng laoshi teaches Lantern Festival in her Chinese class! The riddle activity for the Chinese Lantern Festival was created for the topic of Celebration of Festivals. All of my festivals were first taught on the calendar talk, very basic vocabulary and one or more important features on a specific festival, like everyone did, for example, Chinese in the north eat dumplings in the New Year. As their level advances, more details are added to the celebration of the festivals. This will...

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Discover joy in Reading

By Pu-mei Leng I usually avoid typing on my phone. In response to an NTPRS 2018 Chinese teacher’s question of how to cultivate students’ interest in reading, I write this blog which has been long overdue. Winnie’s question is specific to her students with Asian origins, particularly the ones whose families speak one of the dialects. As we all know Asian parents believe in reading for its educational value and effectiveness. Some students would work for grade and read the things will be included in the assessment. We all have them in second language classrooms because reading is one of...

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Book Review: The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us by Paul Tough

October 16, 2019 is a sunny and windy day in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Coming into school in 42° degree weather on this crispy cold morning, USM's hallways are unusually quiet, classrooms are all empty.  That is because today is filled with preACT/SAT test.  All students are gathering in 3 different gyms throughout the High School campus to take the standardized tests. 8:15, Dr. B started test taking instruction.  "Please clear your table with only a pencil, the instructional menu and the answer key package, everything else needs to be put away.  Phones are off, calculator is only used during the math session,...

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5 Compelling Reasons to Join #CIMW19

The fourth annual Comprehensible Input Midwest will be held at University School of Milwaukee on 9/28/19, the pre and post conference workshops will be hosted at Hilton Milwaukee.  Six days to go!  Here are 5 compelling reasons to consider and join #CIMW19!   5. We care. CIMW is found by a group of passionate educators and second language "parents"!  We care what we do and how we teach impact on our next generations.  We all share a version of creating a world of multilinguals.  Beyond the classroom, we care how our lifestyle affects the world we live in.  We care...

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Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival In A CI Way

Zhōngqīujié, Mid-Autumn Festival, is around the corner.  As the second largest celebrated traditional holiday in China, it is often widely introduced in schools.  The obvious challenge, linguistically for Zhōngqīujié, is that it is a fall holiday.  It usually happens shortly after school resumes.  Novice level students are not ready to hear the legend in Chinese using traditional teaching method.  Even higher level students, who could comprehend jargons, loaded idioms, proverbs and citation of ancient poems?  If only making it into tasting mooncakes, making art crafts or reciting ancient poems, it seems to be superficial.  Therefore, I received quite a few...

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Our Shining Days – Part 1: Movie Analysis

Alice Wang, a Chinese teacher from Indiana, shared a clip of Our Shining Days with me and asked me how I would use it in class.  After watching it, I liked it.  Unlike many other youth movies in China, which often takes on the lack of sex education in Chinese tradition.  They often depict hormonal driven and horny teens to engage in experiential learning of sex.  As a consequences, quite few female leads, in the film, always end up with an abortion and abandonment by her lover.  Tragedy!!! Main Plot: Our Shining Days take on a relevant and pressing challenge:...

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Peek Into Future Through “American Factory”

Back in 2008, GM closed one of its assembly plants in Dayton, Ohio.  It casted a devastating impact on more than 2,400 blue collar automobile workers' lives.  Years later, many of these people still struggle with unemployment, healthcare and/or a place to be called "own" to stay... Due to many obstacles standing in their path: aging, no education, lack professional skills for a modern economy... maybe self doubt, frustration or depression (mental health) was in the way as well. Then, hope and excitement were blown in from the far east.  A Chinese billionaire, Cao, DeWang, was willing to invest millions...

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Summer, Summer, Dare You Go!

Back to school is a clear indication of that summer is over!  If you live in a pretty cold climate and you are not a person who enjoys polar vortex or watch snow flakes for 6 months of a year, then, letting go of summer can be ... Reluctant, challenging,  and depressive...    Oh, even heart-broken! Well, I have never been excited nor happy to let summer go.  On the contrary, I would do whatever it takes to keep summer lingering longer. Seriously! How? By creating more memories!!!  By personalizing my classroom with shared memories of summer. Here is how!...

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Back To School Bingo

Some of you have already been in the full swing of the fall semester.  Many of you are going back to school on Tuesday, right after the Labor Day.  On social media lately, I have seen a dramatic increase of inquiry regarding "WHAT TO DO?  I'M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL NEXT WEEK!" Okay, okay!!!  I got your urgency!  From various social media posts, I sensed some unwillingness to say "goodbye" to summer if you are like me.  Or being super excited and anxious about going back if you are like me as well.  Therefore, I'm going to help you out...

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Infuse Deep Thinking in a Book Trailer

I was talking with Pu-mei Leng, another nationally renowned TCI Chinese teacher and author, about our classes, I got the idea of book trailer from her.  She humbly claimed that it was not her original idea.  Unfortunately, I could no longer recall where she might get the idea from. "It's like a movie trailer, but it is about a book for students to make.  I don't even set any criteria, only tell them to surprise me.  It was for a homework assignment, some kids really blew me away." Pu-mei is a teacher who doesn't need to control her students at...

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Bringing in the Language of Identity into Collaborative Storytelling

Developing a sense of identity has to do who one thinks one is and how one perceives oneself.  It is about how one defines oneself.  As a person's identity is formed by many factors, such as race, gender, nationality, talents, interests... Which message we repetitively inform our children/students regarding who they are matters so much. There is no other classroom can be richer in embracing and forming students' identities than a TCI classroom .  On a regular basis, we have class artists, actors, performers, story writers, quiz writers, time keepers, greeters, helpers...  On top of all being a storyteller together....

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Bringing Empathy into Storytelling

Please meet Chloe the Optimistic! This is a story I co-created with my novice 1A session. Please take a minute to observe Chloe's portrait which was drawn by two in-class artists. What do you see? What do you think? What do you wonder? Do you see an eye with tears on the bottom of Chloe's face? Do you see a tiny little nose on the right side of her cheek? Do you see a big red mouth on her forehead? Do you see two hearts, one is intact, one is broken...? What do you think? Do you think this is...

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Who is Allergic to Girls?

I have a 9 years old boy who apparently is going through a stage of being allergic to girls. If I ever mention a girl's name or acquire anything about a girl in his class, literally, he would scream and run to the opposite direction. Sometimes, I wonder when this phrase is going to pass. Yesterday morning in my level 2 class, I noticed a girl who was quite late. She's a strong, outgoing, playful and happy girl. We have a good relationship together. I called her over and asked whether I could use her in my story. It was...

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Re-approach Novice Level Student with TCI

This year, I have decided to start my Novice level classes little differently than before. Instead of jumping into TPRS immediately, I started with Total Physical Response first. 1. I have two sessions of Novice level classes, which include students from 7th grade to 12th grade. Due to the attention span of my youngsters and the nature of how our brain works, getting students out of their seats with movement and ignite their brains on fire would be very beneficial. 2. I hope to build up a big repertoire in high frequency phrases faster for students so they would be...

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Everyday Heroes

There are many teachers in the world. Lots of them are great teachers. Among the great teachers, quite a lot are outstanding. In my desire to better meet students' needs and become a better teacher every year, I have encountered many marverlous teachers. If opportunities allow, I love to observe them in action, or attend their workshops and presentations, read their books or blogs, or talk to them in person. After a while, I have noticed a pattern that all amazing teachers share. Here, I'm going to share three. 1. Humanity This summer, I was very fortunate to be able...

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Total Physical Response and Its Classroom Application

This article has been published by Chinese Language Teaching Methodology and Technology, Vol. 1 [2017], Iss. 3, Art. 4 Special thanks to my editor, Huiwen Li, for giving me permission to post it here. Click here to read from the journal. Part I: What Is Total Physical Response? Total Physical Response (TPR) is one of the most powerful tools we can use in a language classroom. It is a comprehension-based strategy and built on the coordination of language and physical movements. In TPR, instructors give commands with body movement to students in a target language, students respond with whole-body actions....

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Book Review: Feifei’s Field Trip

儿子自上幼儿园起,就开始有"field trip"了。记得他上4岁幼儿园的时候,他们的实践学习是去湖边的一座公园探索。那天,儿子跟爸爸一起,兴奋地在密西根湖边的沙滩上捡了很多石头回来。等他上5岁的幼儿园的时候,学校组织了他们去动物园。虽说他从小就去动物园,但是坐着校车,跟着小朋友们一起去的感觉就是不一样。他回来后兴奋了好几天。儿子上6岁幼儿园的时候,他的老师给他们上经济课,并且要在教室里设置模拟商店。所以,学校就浩浩荡荡地带着他们参观不同的商店,采访店主,店员和顾客,并且仔细观察店内的布局设计。儿子挑选的职业是收银员,他骄傲的不得了。 今年,儿子上二年级了。学校给他们组织的实践学习是参加一个野地营会,还要带着家长在小木屋里过夜。开始的那天下着雨,儿子穿着雨靴雨衣,在爸爸的陪同下出发了。他们在指导员的带领下,一起做了一个鼓,画了很多印第安人的符号作为装饰。在雨里跟小朋友们一起做了很多游戏。等我下午上完课去看他的时候,他的两只眼睛发着光,玩得实在是太爽了。当我踏进他的小木屋,想看看他的居住条件的时候,他对我说:“妈妈,这是男生专地。你不要进来了。” 据说,那个晚上熄灯后,一群8岁的小男生,打着手电筒,在睡袋里玩不同的游戏玩了很久。"Filed Trip" 实践学习对于儿子来说实在是太开心了。可是,那个晚上,当我跟他们一起联欢的时候,看到有两个男孩,无论他们的父母怎么劝说,都拒绝参与。看来,不是所有的人,即便在这么小的年龄,也不见得都合群,或者喜欢大众游戏。 所以,就让我想到了菲菲。 菲菲是猫咪从书中第六本书的主人公。菲菲是我最喜欢的人物。真的!因为菲菲让我看到我的一些学生,身边的一些朋友,当然还有我自己。每年,每当学生读到菲菲这本书,他们也都有很多感想和共鸣。几年前,一个学生在推特上说:“菲菲是我,我是菲菲。”今年,当我要求我中文二的学生来写读后感的时候,他们的见解就更多了。 在这里,我跟大家分享一些。 如果你不知道菲菲这本书,请看看封面的图片吧。

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 你会被学生气着吗?

头天晚上,你为了把教案准备好,一直熬到午夜才睡觉。第二天早上进到教室,却发现有几个学生功课没有写,你辛苦熬夜设计的活动中,有一项是根据他们的作业而设计的,现在,你会生气吗? 你全身心都在投入地上课,手脚并用,激情澎湃,但是,有个学生把课本竖到桌子上,开始睡觉,你会生气吗? 你对学生说把电脑打开,到某个网站上做某个练习,有的学生借机开始打网络游戏,你会生气吗? 有几个学生,功课常常不做,上课也不专心,但是抱怨是因为你不喜欢他们,所以,他们的成绩偏低。告到家长那里,家长写信跟你抱怨抗议,你会生气吗? 有几个人,在上课的时候,聊天说话怎么都制止不了,还洋腔怪调地挑衅你,你会生气吗? 如果我是你,我一定会生气。正常人都会生气。 你注意过,当你生气的时候,在生理上你会有什么症状吗?比方说:血往上涌,面红耳赤,呼吸急促,胸部发紧,有时候胸闷气短,手脚出汗, 或者,不知所措... 有时候,生气的时候,你感到想要爆发,不然,那份怒火憋在心里会把你焚烧。有时候,生气的时候,你会惊慌失措,因为这不是你想要看到的自己。有时候生气的时候,你会逃避现实,把幻想放飞到一个虚拟世界中... 生气的时候,无论你有什么症状,都很正常。因为从脑科学的角度来说,人们面对创伤或者危险的时候,通常会有三种反应模式:Fight战斗,Flight逃跑,和Freeze冻结。其实这样的反应模式不光光是在受到威胁的时候才发生,这种在进化过程中演变而来的生存的本能目的是在保护我们的生命,不过也会让我们在遇到压力,挑战或者冲突的时候,开启我们默认的反应模式。 生气不可怕,关键是生气之后,怎么办? 当生气的时候,你可以不承认,你也可以怒火冲冠然后不计后果地爆发。或者,自我批判折磨...不过,要是你可以深呼一口气,然后仔细观察你体内的感觉,关注着它的流动和改变,关注着,关注着,不动声色地关注着,不声不响地关注着,不要害怕,不要抵触,不要抱怨,不要谴责,不要羞耻,不要挑逗...什么都不要,只是关注着,关注着...出其不意的是,那份感觉会转移然后消失...不知不觉地,如果你不动声色地关注那份感觉,感觉就会改变,“气”在你不执着的时候,最“无常”。其实,即便是在你执着的时候,也会无常,只是变换得慢一点。 还有,当你生气的时候,请关注在你脑海里的那个小声音,它在说什么? 这个学生太讨厌了,他竟然敢不尊重我?我辛辛苦苦为这个班,这些学生还有这个学校在付出,值得吗?天呐,真的是我在某些方面还不够好吗?是因为我是外国人吗?我的英语不地道吗?是因为我教的不好吗?我天天都在熬夜,他们上一节几十分钟的课,都不能好好专心,太过分了!... 在你脑海的小声音里,有对自我的怀疑和他人的谴责和批判吗? 在我们生气的时候,有一个主要的原因是因为我们想要寻得别人的接纳和认可。所以,我们往往会把别人的过错加在自己的身上,有时候,我们会觉得某个学生的挑衅行为是针对我们来的。特别是,如果你是一个新来乍到的老师,觉得身处弱势... 其实,我想要告诉你的是:接纳自己,接纳那个不完美的自我。你不需要别人的批准和认可。我们的体内流淌着鲜血,我们的情绪有着千变万化。这都是“我"的一部分。你每天都在成长,如果你做到你今年的课比去年好,你明年的课比今年好,足够了。有时候有点小低潮,有点小挫折,不算什么。不要让学生的行为或者态度影响到你的心情和处事。 你可以生气,你有权利生气。不过,生气后,对自己说:“看来,我真是一个正常的大活人,有血也有肉呀!我很好奇,我想要仔细观察这个气在我体内会停留多久,什么时候会改变。我也想好好探索一下当气聚集在体内的时候,我都有什么感觉。” 要知道,我们无法控制别人的行为,但是,我们可以改变自己的反应。 你可以生气,你有权利生气。生气后,不要自我惩罚,也不要谴责别人。 请做几个扩胸运动,使劲跺跺脚,深深地吸上几口气,提醒自己:“她的行为不是针对我来的。我不需要所有人的接纳和认可。” 试一试,告诉我,对你会不会有帮助。

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