Developing and Implementing an Online Chinese Program: A Case Study

Developing and Implementing an Online Chinese Program: A Case Study

Mingyu Sun (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, USA), Yea-Fen Chen (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, USA) and Andrew Olson (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2821-2.ch010


The virtual language classroom is becoming more commonplace, and for many instructors it is even a requirement. This chapter aims to present a virtual language classroom case study and to propose a prototype for instructors to develop and implement fully online entry-level language classes, as well as to provide guidelines and recommendations for their reference as they redesign traditional face-to-face language courses to fit the online modality. As the case study progressed, the authors discovered that this new modality of online language instruction poses many challenges. Their research aims to answer questions, such as: 1) is the online instruction in the case study comparable to the face-to-face class? and 2) how can one best balance synchronous and asynchronous components in an entry-level online language (Chinese in specific) course?
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Background And Literature Review

Although many instructors employ technology in their courses, instructors who deliver content solely online still represent a small percentage (Lancashire, 2009)1. In the field of online language learning, empirical research has been conducted (Bertin, Cravé, & Narcy-Combes, 2010). However, a small number of comparative studies exist (Blake, 2011). Among those few studies, results are encouraging. For example, in a study on oral proficiency measured by a 20-minute test delivered by phone in distance, face-to-face, and blended Spanish classrooms, the results show that learners achieve comparable levels of oral proficiency during their first year of study (Blake, et al., 2008). In a report published by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009, researchers found that post-secondary students took all or part of their classes online outperformed their counterparts in traditional face-to-face classroom. Furthermore, students learning in blended/hybrid environments performed better than those in fully online courses.

There is no systematic information about the distribution of online credit courses2 in the United States. To our knowledge, programs such as an advanced Chinese course offered by the University of Hawaii3 and a beginning Chinese course offered by Coastline Community College in California4 are few and far between.

The authors are familiar with prior efforts taken to develop and implement courses via distance learning technology in the State of Wisconsin in the U.S. The University of Wisconsin System Collaborative Language Program (CLP)5 was established in 1998 to provide language instruction to university campuses that did not have resources to offer instruction in some critical languages, primarily Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian. CLP adopts a blended model of learning that combines classroom-based Interactive Two-Way Videoconferencing (ITV) and a variety of other Internet-based technologies6 in order to offer synchronous as well asynchronous language instruction.

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