I've had some good experiences recently using Chinesepod with a teacher I thought I'd relate. In order to stay on the gravy train I'm still working full-time, but to move my Chinese along I've been investing in daily lessons with a tutor. We chose a book to work through (Schaum's Chinese Vocabulary, which I recommend) but the lessons pretty quickly became hard work - I got bored of conversations about airports, taxis and hotels, and I think the teacher got bored as well, especially when I was lax in doing my preparation. I also had to spend more time memorizing the book's vocab and less on ChinesePod (Erk!).
I therefore quickly came up with the idea of introducing CPod into the mix, and the results have been very good. We've been using about 4-5 lessons a week, starting out with me reading the dialog. On my own time I listen to the official lessons a few times to absorb the explanations of context, grammar and help it sink in. Then we read the lessons out taking turns as the various speakers. This graduates to reproducing the dialog (not verbatim, but with the gist the same) from memory, with hints in English. Some oral quizzing on the vocab helps reinforce things.
The result has been that the lessons have become more fun for both of us. My teacher totally gets a kick out of lessons involving gangsters, pick-up artists and zombies. I've realized there's an awful lot of value in making the teacher's job more fun. For my part I enjoy doing the voices and roleplaying in Chinese. I'm absorbing all the vocab and patterns much better than before, too. It's totally clear that CPod's penchant for crazy and humorous lessons is very worthwhile, as it benefits students, teachers and no doubt the Praxis staff too.
All pretty obvious observations, I know, but I'm getting more value from ChinesePod than ever before. Of course, I'm lucky to have the opportunity for daily lessons like this (it's one of the reasons I shifted to China) but I'm sure it goes without saying that using the lessons this way would be useful in any classroom setting. Furthermore, I think pretty much any student can find a willing language partner online who would be willing to do the dialogues, etc. on Skype or another method. Actually taking part and recalling the language engages a different and important part of the brain than passively listening - Cpod know this, of course, and that's why the audio review is there for every lesson. Acting it out is however more engaging, which probably helps memory and definitely helps you actually get around to practising. Personally, I've always found listening to the lessons to be easy and fun, and rehearsing the audio review to be more of a slog, so I'm always a little less diligent on that part. (We've also tried some other things to spice up the lessons like field trips and TPR but I won't go on here, I'll expand that on my blog which anyone who cares can find pretty easily.)
It's perhaps a different topic, but not wanting to lose my new progress, I tried to make a schedule for the audio reviews based on a rough guess at optimum spacing. There's no point memorizing everything without reviewing weeks and months down the track to prevent atrophy. Anyone have experience with a good schedule?
Off topic, I'm looking into having a bunch of the PDFs printed into a book (for my review), that might be useful for others as well. Has Cpod considered selling bound copies of, say, 50 lessons? Probably the hassle is more than it would be worth to Praxis, but thought I'd mention it.
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