Sunday, December 09, 2007

Where is Dora the Explorer for Chinese?

YouTube - Culture Cubs

Maybe I shouldn't even make this comparison. Dora the Explorer is certainly Spanish-lite and not necessarily a good teaching tool. The rush to teach Chinese is hardly subsiding across the world and in the United States. However, while it seems that many parents, educators, and even the government are on board, instructional materials are lacking.

Where are the quality instructional materials for learning Chinese, especially for children? Do they cost too much to produce? Possibly. But, come on, if we can't do it cheaply in China with Chinese, where can we do it. I would love to see a company get its foot in the door in this area. I see nothing but growth in this area in the coming decades. If done right, you could just modify the script for any language that you want to teach to. Sending it to France? Change it from English to French. It would just take a couple studio hours to record the French speaker.

A friend of mine recently sent me this video that is a fun introduction to some words in Chinese (Mandarin), though it could just as easily be for Mandarin speakers learning English. I think that it's a great production. If used in conjunction with other materials and possibly a teacher (online or face-to-face), it could be extremely motivating and effective.

Imagine a program like this that grew with students. They could start with the basics and advance as their students advanced. They could go beyond vocabulary learning and branch into learning culture, critical literacy, and so forth. A program like this would cost to start, but the long tail on something like this would provide revenue for many, many years. Not to mention, the first ones into the schools will stay in the schools.

Now that I'm talking about it, I wonder if I could carry it out. Unfortunately, I lack both the production abilities for this sort of animation and the Chinese speakers. Oh, well. I hope that this gives one of you the impetus to check it out.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

How to access blocked web sites

Sclipo: How to access blocked web sites

How could I not post this link?

Just the other day one of the listservs that I follow had a posting from someone cheering how she had found a previously unknown proxy site for MySpace and that it was going to be blocked now. I just love the ignorance of these people. Yeah! I found the one proxy site that students use to access these evil sites....

Well, as this video shows, there there many, many ways to do this. This is a proxy cold war and the schools are going to loose. For the same reason that the drug war will never be won and media companies will never be able to use encryption to protect their content, if people want something enough, they will find a way to get it.

Stop spending your time blocking sites and start teaching students how best to use what's out there.