Crystal Lake South High School Chinese Club opens with Weiqi/Go game

No Chinese food, no Chinese crafts, no Chinese performance... At the start of a new school year on September 22, 2011, the Crystal Lake South High School Chinese Club launched its first event of this semester with a unique opening -- an introduction of a simple ancient board game to all club members by the Weiqi enthusiast and teacher Simon Xinming Guo from Chicago. Go game, or Weiqi in Chinese, is a traditional game that originated from China and has been popular for more than four thousand years in Asia. The fantastic Weiqi combines math, science, art, competition as well as ancient Chinese philosophy and culture. Now, it’s gradually becoming an international game.

Mr. Guo came to talk about Weiqi at the invitation of Ms. Lin Hsieh, the Chinese language teacher in the Community High School District 155 of Crystal Lake. In fact, it was a little less than four months before that Mr. Guo brought the Go Game to another high school in the same school district. Ms. Hsieh hopes to use Weiqi to help her Chinese Club students to understand Chinese culture and furthermore to learn the strategic way of thinking. Altogether, about 110 students from the Crystal Lake South High School and Cary-Grove High school learned about Weiqi in their Chinese language classes during this day.

What’s the relationship between Chinese Language learning and Weiqi? Research from Wellcome Trust showed that Mandarin Chinese speakers use both sides of their brains to understand language, whereas English speakers use mainly the left hemisphere. Meanwhile in another research study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)  was used to compare the brain activities of people playing chess as opposed to Weiqi. The result indicated that the right hemisphere of the Weiqi players worked more actively than that of the chess players during the game. By being exposed to Weiqi, Chinese language learners are more likely to tap both sides of the brain and learn Chinese more quickly.