Looking into the Future

I thought I would share with you some of the exciting developments that you can expect to see over the next few months.

Staff Reorganization

I have a very strong team here at CLO. I wish I could say that I did it all by myself, but that would be far from the truth. I will be investing heavily in them over the next few months. What does this mean for you, the listener? I’m glad you asked. There are a few major changes planned for the long term:

1. Existing premium content:

There has always been some lag between when lessons are released, and when the premium content for them is released. As the difficulty of our lessons has increased, this lag has begun to increase as well. Rest assured, I plan to have this lag eliminated so both lessons and premium content can be released together.

2. Earlier lessons:

Since about lesson 196, we have hired a local university teacher with ten+ years teaching Chinese, as a consultant. Her job has been to look over our lessons before they are released, to make sure the material being taught is relevant and appropriate for our course. I’ve been so pleased with her work, that she has now been instructed to go over earlier lessons to correct and update their content too, where appropriate. As you might expect, this is a pretty time consuming task that will take many months to complete. Sections of earlier lessons will be rerecorded where necessary. Stay tuned for updates on this blog for details of which lessons are updated.

What this also means is that the lessons recorded prior to our moving production to Taiwan (lesson 109 on), will be rerecorded completely with our current speakers. The end result for you will be a much more developed course, with a more consistent feel to it throughout. I personally feel that the quality of lessons after 109 (both content and audio quality) are a much better experience than the earlier lessons. My goal is to eliminate this gap altogether.

There are other changes that have also been taking place behind the scenes. Key staff members have been enrolled in courses specifically for teaching Chinese to foreigners. These changes have been implemented not only within the lessons themselves, but also in our Skype one on one sessions.

New Premium Content:

While I’m pleased with the many resources we have been able to offer our Premium subscribers, I still have a few other ideas that I plan to roll out over the next little while. I am looking for a replacement to the Podcast Review that is still in the development stage. The podcast review was a great way to review the dialogue based lessons. However, since many of our more recent lessons aren’t dialogue based, the podcast review in its current form doesn’t always work out.

We also have another review tool that is ready, and will be deployed over the next few months as well.

Overall User Experience

– We are still having issues where our site has been going down, due to too many users trying to access site content at the same time. Thanks to investment in new hardware, the problem is much more manageable now than it was a few months ago. However it’s still not at the stage I would like. Rest assured, there will be more investments made over the next little while to improve the speed and usability of the site.

– We have commissioned a local artist to create pictures for each lesson for us (another time consuming process). I’ve been very pleased with the work I’ve seen so far. Again, with more than 200 lessons to go, it will take some time before pictures are available for all lessons, but I’m confident that the results will be worth it. Like the videos, I’m hoping the pictures will add some visual context to the lessons, better allowing you to remember what was taught.

Please continue to use this blog to give me feedback on what works or doesn’t work for you. You are also welcome to email me directly or visit our new Facebook fan page for other ways to contact us.


No Responses to “Looking into the Future”

  1. Hi Adam,

    I really would like to have an additional feature for the flashcard tests. As I experience it, now the programm randomly chooses a lesson and then asks all the words it contains. That is good for memorizing semantic fields.

    But I think it would also be great, if the system would pick the vocab out of the whole pool of choosen lectures, so that every word can hit you every time 😉

    Maybe this is possible

    It’s really great how you constantly improve and expand CLO.


  2. Hi Che,

    There are two versions of the flashcard – multiple choice and memorization modes.

    In the multiple choice mode, you can select a specific lesson which will test all the new words from that lesson as well randomly picking a few words from earlier lessons.

    In the memorization mode, you can choose a range of lessons and have it only test words from that range. So if you want to have it test the entire range of lessons, you can certainly choose to do so.

    Please let me know if you had a different idea in mind!


  3. Hello Adam,

    I had something different in mind indeed. I was talking about the meomrization mode.
    Maybe an example can make things more clear:

    If I select lessons 100 to 200, the algorithm will randomly choose a lesson out of this range, let’s say lesson 176. Now all the new words from lesson 176 will be tested. After that, the next lesson will be choosen randomly, maybe lesson 154 and all the words out of this lesson will be checked and so on. I can’t prove that the algorithm really works like this, but I experince that a lot of words always come in groups (the days of the week, bussines things etc…), only with changed order. So if you found out one or two of the words of a lessons, you will instantly know which other words will be asked.

    Maybe you implemented it that way because of didactical reasons, which is completly ok.

    But in my opinion an additional mode, working like the following, would also be great:
    The users chooses the range of lessons, as he always does. And now all the vocab of these lessons is in one big pool, and the algorithm picks one word out, ignoring the lesson it comes from. Next word can be any other one (chance is high that it is from a different lesson with a completly different topic).

    That would force the user to recognize words without a given context. With some vocab this might be senseless (e.g. 家), but I wouldn’t say that being confronted with sudden change in topics is far from reality – and most of the words can be recognized without relating them to a context.

    I hope that made things clear 🙂

  4. Thank you a lot Adam!

    Now the memorization tool is even better than before and testing is really more exciting.

    It is great how you react to user given suggestions and how fast you do that.

    Keep on doing such an excellent job!

  5. 老师们你好!

    In Chinese there are lots of different verbs/particles/ways to express “similar” things/affairs/…
    Well, this is the case in other languages, too. However, my feeling is, that in Chinese things are more difficult, because:
    (a) the meaning of some words is not (easily) translatable – at least not with a WORD translation (context is lacking),
    (b) some words have MULTIPLE meanings,
    (c) such words are sometimes used DIFFERENTLY in different contexts (e.g. 再 – 再见 vs. 先…再),
    (d) the usage of some words is a lot different to our language and hence you can not learn them with flashcards very well – you have to practise by USING them.

    So, I often have problems like:
    (a) “what is the difference between X and Y?”
    (b) “why can’t I use X instead of Y here?”

    For example:
    (a) only/just: 只 (zhi3), 就 (jiu4), 光 (guang1)
    (b) then: 然后 (ran2 hou4), 就 (jiu4)
    (c) (continuous): (正) 在 ((zheng4) zai4), (刚) 刚 ((gang1)gang1), 着 (zhe)

    I try to come up with a sentence example for (a) – Take care! I am a not a professional – there can be mistakes in the following:

    我只有一个弟弟。 我就回来了。 我昨天光学习了。
    –> Here, 只,就,光 have different usage and can not be mutually substituted.

    OK, now my idea and question is:
    What about an extended exercise to train these differences of usage.
    It could look exactly like or similar to the great SENTENCE BUILDER. But now there are several additional (unusable!) words/characters (alternatives) to take into account.

    For example:

    English: I’m CURRENTLY eating fish.
    Chinese: 鱼 刚 我 着 吃 肉 在 … + nonsense like 有 …
    Solution: 我在吃鱼肉

    English: I will first wash my hands and THEN eat (the meal).
    Chinese: 饭 洗 先 我 手 吃 在 再 就 然 后
    Solution: 我先洗手, 再吃饭 (attention, I only hope this is correct!)

    Another option would be an exercise where there is a text with gaps in it, and you have to put in the correct word/character…

    I would say, learners like me could easily deliver some words they often have problems with – to me, such problems occur frequently.
    These exercises should not be attached to a specific lesson.

    I’m not sure, if you agree, that such an exercise makes sense. Moreover, I guess the design of the exercises could be even harder than the programming…

    Just thinking aloud… I will not take it personal if you will not implement it. It sounds like a lot of work.

  6. That’s fantastic, Sven. Keep sending me ideas like this. I can’t promise that I can implement them all right away, but it’s good to have them brewing inside of me. Helps develop those eureka moments that come up every now and then.

    I agree that the grammar particles you mentioned are crucial in Chinese. Like you mentioned, just having them in a few sentence builders probably isn’t enough to really teach their usage. However they get used and reused a lot during the later lessons when Raphael is explaining lessons. I’ve also tried to mix the mood up between lesson explanations, lesson dialogues and a few articles here and there so you get a different feel for the language. Going through the lesson transcripts and English translations should hopefully give you a better feel for these grammar particles and how they are used in daily speech.

    Please continue sending me comments and suggestions like this. You’re going to see some great developments on this site over the next few months.

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