Wednesday, October 22, 2008
One tool Curtis Bonk raves about is the podcast Chinese Pod. Not that I'm planning on teaching in China any time soon, but I took the plunge and added Chinese Pod to my podcast subscription list.
This site at the heart is a podcast of daily Mandarin Chinese lessons aimed to help you learn the language. But, it is an exceptionally well-designed site with much more. There is a large appeal to today's youth with the younger teachers and the, as my teenage neighbor suggests, cheese-ingly cool Chinese music. It comes with searchable tagged lessons and vocabulary builders. Best of all, it incorporates the web 2.0's mantra of community with a host of teachers and other learners who help you.
Bonk suggest that this is starting to redefine how we teach foreign language, and I have to agree with him. In Iowa, we have had Willard Daggett for years tell us about how schools are stubbornly offering French when the real language of economic opportunity was Mandarin. Say what you want about Daggett (and I do...), he does do us well by challenging us to justify our offerings. Chinese is a source of future opportunity, and for young students in Iowa in an uncertain time, possible job security.
The problem that I, like any other administrator can tell you, is that it is next to impossible to find a Chinese teacher. Outside of the Urban Eight, Chinese education remains a pipe-dream. Or does it?
Chinese Pod might be the first step, coupled with a distance-learning program. It can be the resource needed to help students get engaged. It works with 21st century "just in time" learning. Students can accelerate or work at their own pace, and jump off with enrichment. And best of all, a school wouldn't have to invest in a teacher, making it worry about enrollment. This type of education can ebb and flow with student interest, meaning those who take it will be more dedicated.
Check it out! (This is the part where I would end my blog with the cheese-ingly cool Mandarin word for "Later!" or "Have a good one!" but I haven't gotten there yet).