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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Defense Language Institute Chinese Online

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Mar 17, 2006 by World Languages Editorial Board
Overview: This website consists of ten lessons arranged by topics with a variety of
exercises for each lesson.
Learning Goals: To improve the learner’s listening, reading, and writing skills through
exercises based on authentic material.
Target Student Population: Target students range from first to third/fourth year and beyond, with most
exercises suitable for second/third year students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Most students should have studied at least 2 years of Chinese and preferably 2.5
or 3 years to handle all the exercises. Few of the exercises are suitable for
beginners.
Type of Material:
Recommended Uses: As a supplement to third and fourth year courses in modern Chinese
Technical Requirements: IE 5.5 or later, Shockwave Player 8.0 or later, Flash Player 5.0 or later,
RealPlayer 8.0 Basic or later, and Chinese Input Method Editor (IME).

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: A broad range of topics is covered, from traditional zodiac animals to
contemporary migrant workers’ problems and military tensions between China and
the U.S. Among the ten lessons, the one on Olympic sports is perhaps the most
sensitive as students who wish to watch Chinese-language broadcasts of the
upcoming Olympics in Beijing might complete such exercises so as to extend their
vocabulary in the area of Olympic sports. The interactive exercises give
learners feedback on correct and incorrect responses.
Concerns: The homepage should contain more information such as a welcoming statement or
the goal of this learning website. The “playback requirements” link should
provide more description so that users are alerted right from the start to
follow the detailed instructions on technical requirements. This is especially
important given the various software programs that are required to play the
audio and video clips available on this site. Additionally, the level of
difficulty in the exercises is not very consistent, with exercises at the
fourth-year level (especially the written-style language excerpts) and some at
the first/second-year level.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The objectives of each lesson are presented, and a variety of innovative
exercises are included in each lesson. Selected exercises can be used by the
instructor as homework assignments or as group activities to supplement
classroom teaching, particularly in the areas of reading and, to some extent,
writing.
Concerns: Instructors themselves must be able to guide students in setting up the
technical/playback requirements, which appear to be more complicated than most
learning websites. Additionally, this site will be much more useful if a
traditional-character version is available.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: Navigation is easy with the help of the tabs and other navigational aids. The
graphics are authentic and attractive, and the audio/video clips are clear.
Furthermore, the exercises provide immediate feedback, the reading passages are
glossed, and users can type Chinese characters relatively easily with the IME.
Concerns: A good amount of memory space and a fast Internet connection are required to
listen to the audios and view the videos effectively. Contact information should
also be available on the homepage.

Other Issues and Comments: