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This sentence is in a 看图写话 section of a HSK6 textbook (photo):

在游泳馆里,爸爸正在教他的孩子学习游泳。
郑丽杰, 刘悦, 21天政府HSK6级写作, p. 24.

I'm puzzled about how both 教 and 学习 both appear in the same sentence.

sb. 正在教 sb. 学习 sth.

In English, it would translate to e.g. "father is teaching his child to learn to swim", which is a weird phrasing (it's meta---"if you want to learn swimming, you need to do A, B, and C"); it'd usually be "father is teaching his child to swim" (and "the child is learning to swim"). I think the same applies in Chinese.

Question: Is it just me, or is 教……学习 in 爸爸正在教他的孩子学习游泳 weird?

This is a sentence with two objects (他的孩子, and 学习游泳), so we can construct other examples:

老师正在教我学习中文。
孙女正在教奶奶学习用手机。
牛仔正在教旅客们学习骑马。
罪犯正在教孩子学习贩卖毒品。

It seems like the sentences will always be better if we delete 学习.

3 Answers 3

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In my opinion, the relationship between the two sentence is like "Father is teaching his son swim", and "Father is teaching his son to swim". Adding a word doesn't change the meaning.

Moreover, it's not as weird as "father is teaching his child to learn to swim" in English. Because Chinese sentence is composed of characters without space like English, so sometimes you can treat "学游泳" as one word. (for example, 上学 can be treated as 3 words: go to school, but also can be treated as 1 word: learning). So if English has a corresponding word of "学游泳", like "learnswim", it will fell more normal: father is teaching his son learnswim.

老师正在教我学习中文。 孙女正在教奶奶学习用手机。 牛仔正在教旅客们学习骑马。 罪犯正在教孩子学习贩卖毒品。

For the four sentences, yes I agree with you, without 学习 is more concise. However, you can also say them with "学习" to to emphasize "learning". The feeling is like "虽然。。。但是" in Chinese. It's very weird in English if someone says "although ...but ...", but for emphasing the relationship, 但是must be used after 虽然。Actually, "虽然但是" is different from your examples, but I think you can use it to understand the Chinese grammar feeling.

I seem to be a little unclear. If you don't understand anything, feel free to ask me again.

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If the sentence is "the father is teaching his son to swim" then the problem with "爸爸正在教他的孩子学习游泳" is being wordy, '学习' is redundant. Just say "爸爸正在教他的孩子游泳" is enough

If the sentence was "爸爸教他的孩子(如何)学习游泳" then it would mean "the father teaches his son (how to) learn to swim" then "如何" is missing

  1. 爸爸正在教他的孩子学习游泳 - the father is there personally teaching his son to swim

  2. 爸爸教他的孩子如何学习游泳 - the father just gives his son tips on how to learn to swim, but the son has to do the learning on his own

With 正在 in the sentence, #2. seems unreasonable, so "爸爸正在教他的孩子游泳" would be the best way to construct this sentence

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教……学习 = teach....to learn

  • 老师正在教我学习中文。The teacher is teaching us to learn Chinese.

  • 孙女正在教奶奶学习用手机。The grand kiddy girl is teaching her grandma to learn the use of a cell phone.

  • 牛仔正在教旅客们学习骑马。The cowboy is teaching the tourists to learn horse riding.

  • 罪犯正在教孩子学习贩卖毒品。The criminal is teaching the children to learn drug selling.

Note: The word "teach" describes a single act; "teach....to learn" includes two acts in the phrase - "teaches a person to pick up/perform a new skill/task through learning".

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