I’m a massive fan of educational technology (also known as edtech). My two most commonly used examples of edtech are duolingo, and memrise. When edtech is done really well, it really can make learning fun. When I saw the LearnYu project by Judith Meyer, it was something which I thought was a fantastic idea that covers an important niche – learning Chinese through interactive exercises.
A tool that teaches conversation skills and prepares for exams
What I really like about LearnYu is that it has very clear goals – to teach you Chinese for the HSK1 exam, and to teach you Chinese conversation skills. It is a very unique project in this way. Duolingo famously (or infamously?) prompts you to translate sentences of complete nonsense in order to grasp grammar, and memrise courses vary wildly in their scope to teach you a language. The actual spoken language in this project is all recorded by native Chinese speakers, which is a lot better than text-to-speech computer generated robot voices found in other edtech tools.
It can be easily adapted for a classroom environment
I am really excited that the design of this project also considers the classroom, and how teachers can implement this to encourage and help their students:
(taken from the indiegogo campaign)
Are you a Chinese teacher ant want your students to use LearnYu as supplement to their learning? Up to 50 students can use LearnYu and you will be able to monitor their progress from a special administrative interface
There are a lot of clever ways this could be used in a classroom, from having mini competitions with teams, teaching the entire class if they are struggling on a particular language point, or even having the better students coach the weaker students.
Support the Campaign!
The Indie GoGo campaign can be found by clicking here. There is not much time left, but I really can see a tremendous amount of potential in this project and I wholeheartedly support it. If you think that language can and should be taught in more interesting ways that engage students on an individual level, then I hope that you are able to support this campaign as well.