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University at Albany and OneWorld Classrooms Launch Multimedia Online Resource for Students of Mandarin Chinese

"Student-to-Student Language Lab: Chinese" Targets U.S. Middle and High School Language Learners

The project involves working with schools in both the U.S. and China to develop text, images, digital video, and instructional material. (Photo Mark McCarty)

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 6, 2011) -- The University at Albany has partnered with OneWorld Classrooms to launch "Student-to-Student Language Lab: Chinese," an online learning lab enabling Chinese and American students in middle and high school grades to work together to learn native languages. The new online tool is supported by a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s International Research and Studies Program.

The program was developed by faculty and staff at the University at Albany School of Education with assistance from WorldTeach-affiliated middle/high schools in Hunan Province, China and the Blue Luna Group, a private Web development firm.

The grant's principal investigator, Peter Shea of UAlbany’s Department of Educational Theory and Practice, said, “We are proud to make this new resource available to the community of language educators and we believe it will be essential in assisting middle and secondary school students to begin to master the Chinese language.”

The three-year project will develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative Mandarin Chinese resource for K-12 schools, and involves working with schools in both the U.S. and China to develop text, images, digital video, and complementary instructional materials to facilitate student collaboration in support of language learning.

Shea also noted that while most students in China learn English from an early age, relatively few American students learn Chinese. "We hope that the Student-to-Student Language Lab will make a contribution in increasing understanding between American and Chinese students now, and in the future," he said.

Kicking Off the Program
The first level contains 20 digital video modules for students with novice-nigh to intermediate-mid proficiency levels, with the theme ‘Inside China: My School, My Home, My Hometown.’ Each module in the lab is aligned with a grammatical element and a cultural theme and consists of Listen, Watch, Practice and Meet the Students sections, centering on dialog featuring students with a corresponding vocabulary list.

Lab content is aligned with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ Standards for Foreign Language and the 5 C’s of Foreign Language Learning (Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons and Communities). In 2012 the team will add sample performance objectives; a textbook alignment chart; and transcripts in Mandarin, Pinyin and English. Levels II (Getting Around in China) and III (Famous Places in China), with an additional 35 modules and 2,000+ videos, will be added next year.

Additional future plans for the grant program include developing a self-publishing interface for the lab, through which teachers in the U.S., China and elsewhere would produce new content following specific guidelines, a means for the Chinese and English content to continuously expand based on user submissions. Developers will also expand content to include a beginner version and produce materials for additional languages.

Lilia Cai-Hurteau, project manager for the grant, oversaw the creation of the lab. Cai-Hurteau, a native of China, said, "The lab is a unique and innovative resource because it allows students to learn a foreign language from their peers who speak it as a first language. We believe this dynamic makes learning more meaningful and powerful. We are very grateful to, the U.S. Department of Education, WorldTeach, and the schools in China who made this possible."

Visit the password-protected online multimedia resource.

Registration is required.

About OneWorld Classrooms
OneWorld Classrooms is a Boston-based nonprofit that builds bridges between local and global K-12 classrooms through the arts and technology. It provides students with opportunities to share, collaborate, and explore with their global peers in the context of the curriculum. Visit www.oneworldclassrooms.org for information.

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