General Updates

While it may seem on the outside that we’re on a break, there has been a lot of behind the scenes work going on. Here are some updates on different sections of the site:

  1. Exercises page – A new batch of questions has been added, bringing the current total to about 30 or so. Eventually, depending on user response, we could have a question there for most lessons. The idea here would be to get you using what you learn in each lesson by having to answer an open ended question on the subject for that lesson. By keeping the questions open ended, we are encouraging you to find and use vocabulary related to your personal life. So if we asked what your job is, you would need to know how to say your particular profession in Chinese. This page has recently been enhanced to allow “conversations” with the teacher, so if you needed extra vocabulary, you could ask for help and the teacher could guide you through your answer. Each time an answer is posted, you will be notified via email. Links have also been added to the lessons that each question was taken from. Thanks to those who have used this feature and provided feedback so far. Update: I have noticed some users submitting answers in numbered Pinyin. I have since updated the interface to convert numbered pinyin into tone marks. This should hopefully improve the usability.  Update 2: Another batch of exercises has been added, bringing the total to about 70 questions now.
  2. PDFs for levels 1 and 2 are currently up to date. Level 3 will take longer as each lesson has 6 to 7 PDFs associated with it. My target is to have PDFs for all lessons available by the end of the year. Update: PDFs are now current for level 3 as well.
  3. Videos for level 3 were recently added, so almost every dialogue in the course should now have a video associated with it.
  4. Sentence builder questions have been added for most lessons in level 1 and are currently being added to lessons in level 2 onwards. Update: Sentence builder exercises are now available for every lesson in the course.

We hope to be able to use all these tools to improve the approach used at CLO. When we first began this course, new vocabulary was first introduced and then later reused in future lessons. However, with our word bank currently sitting at over 2000 items, it isn’t practical to solely use future dialogues and lessons as review practice. So the new approach is to continue to use new lessons to introduce new vocabulary. Users can then study the examples used in the lesson in the vocabulary page while practicing their pronunciation. The sentence builder program can then be used to play with the words in other contexts. The podcast review will then reinforce this vocabulary further in more contexts. Finally, the exercise page can be used to test the user’s own understanding by forming responses using this new vocabulary. Later, the flashcard program can be used to test the user’s retention of vocabulary from older lessons.

It is hoped that this process will greatly aid in retention of new vocabulary. Where it’s forgotten, the word bank can hopefully aid in quickly accessing old material. All these tools have been added based directly on user feedback, so keep your comments and emails coming in. Let me know how exactly YOU use these tools and what can be done to improve your learning experince.

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