This presentation will demonstrate the CD-ROM project "An Interactive Learning Assistant," based on Wei Hong's textbook Practical Business Chinese (PBC) by China Books and Periodicals, USA (1997), which is employed at Purdue and other institutions worldwide. The CD-ROM project intends to provide students with a computer-assisted learning tool to inform of the general practices of doing business in/with China, developing cultural awareness, pre/reviewing the course work, and working on homework assignments that may be otherwise challenging without the help of a computer. For business people, on the other hand, who are not able to enroll in a Business Chinese course, this learning assistant would aid in self-learning the materials in PBC. This instructional system takes full advantage of digital video and presents five different exercise formats all involving interaction with video clips. Through these exercises, students will receive plenty of exposure to the target language and practice in aural comprehension, oral production, vocabulary, and spelling. The system has been on the market with Spanish content materials. French and Chinese content will be published in fall 2000.
"Web-Based Technology in the Teaching of Chinese Language"
This presentation will demonstrate how web-based technology functions in the development of computer assisted teaching of Chinese at Harvard University. It will touch upon issues like the role of the internet in the teaching of Chinese, the capacity of web technology in helping both students and teachers in their respective learning and teaching of the target language, the advantages and limitations of such technology, and future prospects. The presentation will also present the actual implementation of web-based technology in teaching by the Harvard Chinese Language Program, and the achievements so far obtained by browsing through concrete examples such as Harvard teaching material archives, text material on-line recording site, interactive listening and reading comprehension site, and our award winning Chinese pronunciation guide. Some thoughts about future development will also be discussed.
"Digitized Lesson Plans with Visual Aids in Chinese Individualized Instruction"
At Ohio State University, Individualized Instruction (I.I.) provides learners with an alternative to classroom instruction. During each academic quarter, instructors of Chinese I.I. teach four courses from beginning to early intermediate level. Each instructor is expected to be familiar with the contents of the four courses and ready to teach students at different levels in a sequence of individual sessions. This poses a serious challenge to lesson planning and visual aids preparation. Professor Yu is leading a team to design and develop digitized lesson plans with visual aids, using mainly Director, an authoring software for multimedia material development. The purpose of the project is to help instructors make each session of I.I. more efficient and effective. Each digitized lesson plan contains pictures, photos, texts, ready-made exercises, and sometimes video clips to create authentic situations for instructors to evoke dialogue performance, do exercises on particular language points, and engaging in role-playing with the learners. The presentation will consist of four parts:
"Using Xiaopin (Comic Skits) as an Interactive Text to Teach Auxiliary Particles"
Aili Mu and Wenwei Du are in the process of creating multimedia interactive software, which uses a series of comic skits (xiaopin) as its authentic texts. One of the texts is a xiaopin performance titled "Xiao Jiu and Lao Le" (Xiao Jiu, Lao Le). It was performed by Zhao Benshan and Yang Lei at a Chinese New Year Gala Performance televised by the Central Television Station in China. The choice of this text as a study material is multi-purpose. A distinct linguistic characteristic of this comic skit is the high frequency of the occurrences of auxiliary particles such as "a," "na," "ya," "wa," "la," "bei," "ne," "ba," and "ma". Wenwei Du's presentation focuses on the use and intended use of this material to teach second and third year students to review the old and learn the new auxiliary particles, and to help them consolidate the knowledge about the different functions of each particle. The presentation outline is:
"Web-Based Sharing of Quality Teaching and Learning Resources: The LangNet Project"
LangNet is a WWW-based system designed to enable language learners to receive programming customized to their language learning needs and goals, and to promote equitable access to highly effective language programs on a national scale. In addition, the centralization of information through LangNet will enable each separate language education field to catalogue its existing pedagogical resources, as well as areas in which it is lacking, thereby providing a foundation for empirically-based strategic planning for the development of the field. LangNet has been developed under the aegis of the National Foreign Language Center with funding from a number of private and government organizations. At present eleven languages are having LangNet sites developed with the collaborative support of professional organizations of language teachers.
The NFLC has placed a high priority on Chinese as one of the languages for which a LangNet system will be developed in the near future. This presentation will provide a progress report on what has already been accomplished in the development of the Chinese LangNet (to be dubbed ChinaNet), including a demonstration of some sample Chinese language entries, as well as a wider range for some of the other languages that are already in use.
"Technology and Chinese Language Instruction: Something Old, Something New, and Something Borrowed"
With the increasing development of computer technology, Chinese language teaching has also entered the computer era. The first known computer-assisted language learning (CALL) program was the PLATO program developed by Prof. Chin-chuan Cheng on a main frame computer in the 1970s. CALL has made a lot of progress in the past two decades advancing from main frame computers, to personal computers, and now is entering the internet era. Chinese language instruction has also begun to take advantage of the widespread and ever-changing web technology.
Tao-chung Yao will share his personal experience in using technology for teaching Chinese. In 1985 he co-authored a program for learning Chinese characters. Later Professor Yao learned how to use HyperCard and developed some prototype HyperCard stacks for learning Chinese. He has also designed an interactive video program for teaching Chinese using an animated film and a computer-adaptive test for reading Chinese. When the Web became popular in recent years, Professor Yao set up a website to serve the users of a textbook that he co-authored.
In the early days, computer programs were mostly geared toward assisting the learning of Chinese characters and pronunciations. Recently, the interest has shifted to web course design and delivery. Tao-chung Yao's personal journey of CALL coincides with the history of Chinese CALL and demonstrates how CALL has moved from the era of personal computers (both PC and Mac) to the internet. If time allows, Professor Yao will demonstrate some of the computer programs that he has developed and show a couple of websites done by him and his colleagues at the University of Hawaii.
"How Learners of Beginning Chinese Benefit from the Indication of Word Boundaries"
This presentation investigates the effect of visible word boundaries on American students learning Chinese as a second language. Audrey Li, Xiu-Zhi Zoe Wu, and Yichia Hsu will report on how the marking of word boundaries helps beginning learners of Chinese, not only in their reading ability, but also in their speaking, listening, and writing skills.
Four classes of first-year university students participated in this study. Two classes were in the experiment group, one level-one class and one level-two class; the other two classes were the control group consisting of a level-one class and a level-two class. For the experiment group, all reading materials after the first mid-term were presented with visible word boundaries. For the control group, the students were shown the same reading materials without word boundaries. To analyze whether the visible word boundaries made a difference in learning Chinese, the two groups were compared for the progress reflected in the grades of the mid-term and final examinations. A semi-structured questionnaire was also given to the students in the experiment group to report in-depth on how they themselves felt they benefited from the word boundaries given in the reading materials.
The results of the experiment are as follows. With respect to silent reading for comprehension, all students except the top 12% in the experiment group improved in their reading skills. In the activities of reading out loud, all students in the experiment group showed significant improvement. The improvement developed in reading out loud also manifested itself in other general oral skills and exams, and all students except the lower 18% in the experiment group showed improvement in sentence pronunciation and conversation practice. At a later stage, those students at the average level of the class in the experiment group also seemed to show certain improvement in listening comprehension; however, it was less clear that this was directly due to the indication of word boundaries in visually presented materials. There were no obvious effects and no significant improvement in the students writing skills. Concerning the questionnaire given to students, all students reported that the marking of word boundaries helped them improve their language skills. The students at the top tier, however, noted that they worried about becoming too dependent on such artificial visual aids. The general conclusion of the study is that the explicit indication of word boundaries can significantly increase the confidence and ability of most introductory level students in reading out loud and silent reading for comprehension. This increased confidence may then have positive effects in other areas of the language skills. However, preliminary findings suggest that while such word boundary marking aids may have positive effects with introductory level students, they should be discontinued once students have achieved a satisfactory level of fluency in their reading skills.
"An Easy-use Template for Multimedia Chinese Language Teaching"
"Designing and Developing Web-Based Chinese Language Course"
Using a web-based course for Chinese language instruction is a relatively new pedagogical enterprise. Many instructors are interested in developing such a course but feel they lack the necessary technological skills to create web pages for it. Nor do they typically know how to design a web-based course that both motivates and maximizes student learning.
A web-based language course can be developed either by generating individual web pages or relying on management programs. To create individual web pages, instructors can work with Netscape Composer, Page Mill, Front Page and other composing programs. Once created, these pages must then be organized and combined into an instructional format, thereby requiring instructors to be proficient in web page management. However, instructors need no such expertise if they use a web page management program. Blackboard CourseInfo, EZ-College, WebCT, and comparable web management programs, enable instructors to produce various on line documents for student access according to a prescribed template.
"Why Good Web Pages Go Bad: The Pitfalls and Promise of Chinese on the Web"
"Using Technology to Make Teaching More Cost-effective: A Working Project"
This project aims at improving students' language proficiency and instructional quality in a cost-effective way. Hunter, among one of the colleges within the CUNY system that teach Chinese, offers three-hours-per-week lower-level language courses, with an enrollment limit set between 25-30 for each section. Compared to Princeton and many other private institutions' Chinese language programs where students meet five hours per week and practice in drill sessions with no more than ten students, Hunter's students are at disadvantage. This unfortunately also holds true for many students at state universities where resources have proved to be scarce. Given limited classroom instructional time at the lower-level Chinese courses, the students are not prepared for the materials at the advanced level. This contributes to a dramatic drop in enrollment in upper-level Chinese courses. Moreover, teachers find it challenging to teach third-year students who lack adequate linguistic background. Language retention poses a second problem. Periods away from regular instruction, such as semester breaks, typically result in the erosion of language skills, especially reading abilities based on character recognition. Therefore, much classroom time goes to reviewing old material rather than introducing new material. Web-based materials would allow students to learn and review at any time and would encourage continuous language learning without interruption. Language retention would be the natural result.
Language skills, which could be more effectively developed by students working on Web-based materials outside of classroom, have been identified. From the language acquisition point of view, character recognition and reading comprehension skills are ideally suited to individual instruction using interactive Web-based exercises. Thus, less classroom contact hours and fewer number of faculty will be required without sacrificing students' learning results and instructional quality by implementing such Web-based materials into teaching and learning. The experiment proposes that these Web-based materials will supplement three-hours of classroom instruction so that students can reach the same language proficiency as students who have the privilege of receiving five-hours of instruction.
The project will employ the most advanced Web-based technology, including animation, video, electronic bulletin boards, interactive exercises, instant feedback, referencing, automatic scoring, speed-controlled reading passage, chat rooms, and teleconferencing. An on-line digital camera system will offer a visual forum for student and faculty participation. Users of the site will have to register, and a database of users will help to ensure the best management and development of the site. Supplementary workbooks will also be designed to provide students with ample opportunities to practice and enhance what they have learned on the site.
Application of these technologies and materials would make learning more interesting and effective. At the beginning level, the content of the materials will focus on learning characters and reading simple texts. At the intermediate level, the focus will turn to introducing reading passages composed with linguistically more sophisticated structures. Web-based interactive activities will be developed to improve reading strategies such as skimming and scanning, to identify the paragraph topics, and to make use of linguistic cues in the text to facilitate comprehension. In general, these skills will be more effectively achieved using interactive exercises on-line rather than with traditional textbook materials.
A wealth of teaching and learning resources are available on the internet. They are usually more interesting and interactive than the traditional textbooks, audio, and videotapes. However, Chinese language teachers cannot just send out students to the internet sea and let them sink or swim. It is a Chinese language teacher's job to select appropriate sites and materials on the web and then take a step further to design exercises for students to reinforce what they learn in class on their own. This presentation will focus on the pedagogy of utilizing resources currently available on the internet as supplementary materials to reinforce the content and language skills, as well as the techniques to create active learning environments that enhance students' learning experiences and extend instructional activities beyond the traditional classroom. Samples of exercises will be shared with the participants.
"How to Teach Chinese Characters on Computer?"
Learning Chinese characters might be one of the most difficult tasks for Chinese students. Traditionally, instructors teach every character stroke by stroke after demonstrating their pronunciation and meaning. With the invention of computers and the internet, some on-line character learning tools have also been developed (e.g. Ocrat.com and Dr. Xie's website.) These tools may have made students' learning more interactive, however, it has not been clear whether they are more effective in teaching students learn characters than the traditional methodology.
This presentation will provide evidence from the students' process of learning characters at Western Washington University to show that the current available on-line character learning tools are not sufficient or effective for students to learn characters, and more advanced tools need to be developed. It will be demonstrated that apart from animated stroke orders that most of the current tools have, new tools should contain functions of showing the internal structure of characters and their semantic (most likely the radical of characters) and phonetic components (most likely related to the pronunciation of the characters.) Empirical studies at Western show that students who have learned the structure and components of characters can memorize the characters faster and hold them longer than students who have only learned the stroke orders of the characters. Certainly, the studies were conducted under the condition that both types of students spend equal amount of time on their listening, speaking, and practicing of those characters. Since more than ninety percent of Chinese characters consist of both semantic and phonetic components, to compose or decompose characters surely provides students with various cues for memorizing them. It will be suggested that computer learning tools must have build-in functions to illustrate the structure of Chinese characters. Otherwise, character learning tools is only a fancy term.