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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Learning Chinese and Other Languages with New Web 2.0 Strategies

New Web 2.0 applications such as ones like italki ( that encourage interactions in multiple languages in social communities, virtual worlds, and information sharing are perfect complements to traditional language courses as well as the new podcast and radio-based programs. For example, students who take courses through the new podcast and satellite broadcasts of Chinese language lessons by China Radio International (CRI) could find participating in the language-learning community to be very helpful.

A new endeavor, aims to incorporate the functionality of Web 2.0 to encourage language learners to participate in activities designed to motivate as well as providing practice in the target language. In doing so, is creating unique language learning communities.’s language learning communities are an excellent way to overcome a sense of isolation. Further, they provide learners a great way to practice speaking, writing, and listening to others. The sense of community can help the learners overcome the psychological blocks (anxiety, low self-concept) that often hamper the efforts of language learners.

In fact, language-learning anxiety can be reduced dramatically in the environment because there are a number of resources and tools at one’s disposal in the online arena. For example, pronunciation and vocabulary support are at one’s fingertips. In addition, the use of avatars and screen names can help one feel as though one is role-playing instead of actually jeopardizing one’s real identity or self.

Perhaps the most powerful way to use language-learning social communities is to develop a personal learning plan, and to clearly and systematically integrate the activities in the community with a more formal language program.

For example, the lessons offered by China Radio International (CRI) could be incorporated because they are standardized, and are being offered in more than 38 countries (

Uniform study materials have been compiled by the Office of Chinese Language Council International.

Confucius Institute Project:

Office of Chinese Language Council International:

Confucius Institute at Michigan State University:

CRI Talk China:

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