Learning Chinese Online During COVID

It has been over one year since COVID has ravaged the world and changed a lot of our daily lives. Education seems to be on the fore front of people’s minds, when will the kids be able to go back to school? When will college kids get to socialize and attend their universities in person? How is the virtual online class experience going for the children, and what kind of impact will it have on their psychological and academic well being?

Fortunately there seems to be a silver lining in the COVID world of education, where as the answer to children going back to school is a resounding “Yes!”, arguably, in the world of language education there are some advantages to learning languages online. Students, both adults and children alike, have found that while socializing is important in any learning environment the online classroom also has its advantages. Let us try to outline a few:

#1 – Utilizing an online platform such as zoom or google meet allows for teachers to record their classes, and then send those recordings to students. Especially when learning a tonal language like Mandarin, there are many advantages to being able to go back into the recording of your interactions in class and see “ahh, my teacher said it this way, and I kept saying it another way.” It trains the ear, and, you can press stop and play to repeat and try to get that tone right.

#2 – The classroom style itself is more regulated. While spontaneity is of course important for learning in the classroom and really speaking a foreign language itself, it is also helpful that the quiet students in the classroom now get to speak more and interrupt other students less. Arguably, when teaching online you can pay more attention to the individual student.

#3 – Sharing of files is possible and more efficient in the online environment. Instead of having a teacher in the front of the classroom trying to outline things on a whiteboard, you now get to interact with your teacher online and click a file (and have her update it) to see what mistakes you have made and save those for later when reviewing.

#4 – The breakouts…if you haven’t taken an online language class then you should experience the breakout rooms (at least, that is what they are called on zoom). It is basically the ability for the teacher to create a separate room, and funnel students into it. It is pair work that is truly personal, where you can practice your language patterns with your partner and no one else can hear you in the classroom.

While Mandarin is a great language to learn online, there are also other languages that have proven to be useful when learning, such as Arabic, Thai, Japanese, Cantonese and Korean. So don’t just stop at trying one language? Or something like that.

We hope that this article encourages students to try learning languages online. Of course there are disadvantages that we are happy to hear and please leave your comments in the chat. Thank you!

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