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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Chinese Way to Go

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.25 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.25 starsstar
Reviewed: Mar 17, 2014 by World Languages Editorial Board
Overview: Chinese Way to Go provides text-based resources for teachers of Mandarin Chinese in North America, including activities and made-ready quizzes of Chinese phonetics, history, arts and culture, as well as information about standardized tests of Chinese. The entire Website is coded in traditional Chinese characters, with the exceptions of the bilingual hyperlinks.This site is mainly for teachers to share teaching resources, student activities and special events, and to showcase students' projects.
Learning Goals: Teachers of Chinese can learn from the shared resources, which include lessons for low, mid, and high-level classes. Sample lessons include colors, shapes, songs, rhymes, poems, riddles, festivals, arts and crafts, etc.
Target Student Population: Teachers are the target users of this site. However, students with a high level of proficiency can also use this site as a learning resource to increase their language skills.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: An advanced level of proficiency in Chinese and the ability to read Chinese in traditional characters.
Type of Material: Collection
Recommended Uses: Teachers can make good use of this site to get teaching ideas from each other. Students at a high level of proficiency can also increase their language skills through reading poetry and guessing challenging riddles, and so forth.
Technical Requirements: n/a

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: This site is resourceful in offering teachers of Chinese creative ways to teach a variety of topics. It also offers tips for teachers to deliver effective and engaging lessons. For example, one of the lessons suggests enhancing story telling with realia pulled out from the pocket of the teacher's apron, or with pictures pinned on the apron. Another lesson teaches how to create a puzzle game using Chinese characters. Each lesson gives a step-by-step guide for planning the lesson and the materials needed for the lesson, as well as how teachers can guide their students in achieving the learning outcomes. The most relevant part of the Website is ‘Teacher’s Corner,’ where useful ideas are categorized into several sections, Ideas/Activities, Performing Arts, Phonetics/Word, History/Culture, Expert’s Advice and Tools/Resources. Most materials are text-based and ready to print, but some activity ideas have illustrations as well.
Concerns: The limited amount of materials presented in this site decreases its resourcefulness. Additionally, the site can be enhanced by including more multimedia, for example, audios of songs and poetry recitations, and videos of teaching/learning activities.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: It can be a very useful tool because the materials are interesting and semiotic. As a teacher-contributed Website, the resources are not systematically organized according to learner levels, yet the value lies in the materials themselves. There are ready-to-use scripts for skits, stand-up comedies (Chinese style) and drama, as well as nursery rhymes, poems and puzzles. It also has student-made sections focusing on common errors while learning the Chinese characters, as well as tables comparing the present-day characters with their pictographic origins, drawing connections between the two. Teachers can adapt each resource into a classroom project that may last from a few lessons to an entire semester. Although the materials posted in this site seem random, they appear to cover essential topics frequently introduced in mainstream Chinese language classes. For example, learning to write Chinese characters in the correct stroke order is the basic foundation of character writing and an important skill that lower-level students must acquire. On the other hand, choosing the correct character for a specific meaning from among several homographs is a skill to be mastered by higher-level students.
Concerns: One major concern for using this Website as a teacher resource is the use of traditional Chinese characters – one of the two standard sets of printed Chinese characters, widely used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as their overseas communities. Chinese teachers from mainland China use the simplified characters, and may be hesitant to teach with traditional characters (even though they should be able to recognize and read most of them) or may have to simplify the texts before using them in the classroom. Also, although the materials are very useful for enriching the curriculum, there is no clear indication that they are connected tightly with the curriculum. It would be helpful if each entry would indicate the appropriate age level, language level, linguistic aspect and curriculum-based context.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: The menu (table of contents) is well designed with headings and pop-up sub-headings, and it appears on every page for easy navigation. The page background is colorful and consistent throughout the site.
Concerns: Adding the function of letting users choose between simplified or traditional characters would make this Website much more inclusive. Some interactive features could make the content more multi-dimensional and engaging. Only on pages in the About Us section does the Webmaster offer technical help to those that cannot view Chinese on the screen, which should be provided on every page. It also seems like this site has not been updated since 2001.

Other Issues and Comments: n/a