Can it be done. Apparently it’s taking off in China, and teachers there are offering it to students overseas. This article looks at the pros and cons.
Chinese instructors are teaching their language to students around the world without ever leaving China, as Liu Yang recently demonstrated while sitting in a cubicle peering at a streaming video image on her computer monitor.
Her headset comfortably on, Liu gently addressed a faraway student struggling to speak in the standard Chinese dialect. She watched him on her screen, corrected his pronunciation and guided him through simple drills in an online textbook.
With the latest technology, student and teacher heard each other clearly. They also saw each other on camera.
The era of interactive online language instruction has arrived. It may never be a complete replacement for face-to-face instruction, experts say, but its low cost and convenience make it attractive. Instruction in standard Chinese, or Mandarin, is taking off in China, where teachers are paid less than instructors abroad and easily embrace the technology.
“This is a trend. It is unavoidable,” said Dr. Marvin Ho, founder of the Taipei Language Institute, a Chinese-language school with 12 centers in Taiwan, Mainland China, Japan and the United States.
Others who are quoted say, however, that this technology can only go so far, and can never replace face-to-face instruction. While I would tend to agree, I would still love to try it; my tight schedule (the reason for the dearth of posts in recent weeks) makes going to class almost impossible. Anyone know where I can actually get any information on cost and class times?
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.