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Signing up for an online course in Chinese

Detail of Nine Dragon Screen, Datong, Shanxi, China. Photo by Doron. Creative Commons license 3.0.

Detail of Nine Dragon Screen, Datong, Shanxi, China. Photo by Doron. Creative Commons license 3.0.

Does anyone out there want to join me in taking a beginning Mandarin Chinese course this summer?  It’s a free EdX offering, it starts July 6, and it runs for 6 weeks.

Here’s my thinking about it:

Pictograms–I’m not artistic, nor am I a strong visual learner, so I approach pictograms with trepidation.  On the other hand, I think they’re fascinating and beautiful.

Tones–all those different meanings depending on how a word is said!  It sounds hard, but maybe an acquaintance with music and an auditory orientation will help.

Image by IvanWalsh.com. Creative Commons license.

Image by IvanWalsh.com. Creative Commons license.

Starting another language?  Yes, there’s a case to be made for going deeper into a language I’ve studied before.  But at Durham Academy right now, the main focus in exchanges and foreign partnerships is on China.  There will be a student trip to China next year, and it’s possible I’ll be a chaperone.

How can a 6 week course in a topic as vast as Chinese be meaningful?  Well, studying a language is one of the most profound learning experiences I know, so I think there’s general brain-training value.  And a little familiarity with the sound and structure of a language makes it easier to understand native speakers whose accent in English is heavy.  Plus any window onto Chinese culture and values is a good thing for an aspiring “global citizen.”

Methodology–as an online teacher in a very different environment (Global Online Academy), I’d like to learn more about how interaction is generated in MOOCs.  I’d also like to strengthen my foundation for advising clients enrolled in MOOCs as part of a Cloud to Ground Learning program.

And now a confession: I’ve signed up for many a MOOC but never completed one.  The closest I got was when my husband and I took one together for several weeks.  He finished it, but I got swamped with school work and dropped it. Time shouldn’t be as much of an issue this summer, but as a social learner, I’d love to have some company on this journey.  In writing about it, I’m also increasing the pressure on myself to follow through!

So what do you think?  Do you have reasons to take a beginner course in Mandarin Chinese?

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Categories: Education
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  1. July 14, 2015 at 3:13 pm

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