What I Learned About Online Learning

Get started or do a lot of research with this excerpt from Christine Hollen’s latest post.

By Christine Hollen

Learning to speak Mandarin Chinese from a digital reference source like the online China Textbook Pro System for English is a great way to add language and culture exposure for a second language (or any other) learner, especially if you’re taking the online UC Topics* course. My English is learning the dialect of dialects, so in order to do well and be accurate with text in this program, I had to learn how to edit phrases. I spent countless hours of my day with a Macbook & text analysis app as I tried to make my own sentences by simply selecting a whole sentence and choosing a word(s) to make it sound different in order to match the Chinese word. It worked fairly well, but I often felt like a bit of a jerk.

Now, when I am online I find myself applying this feedback to my entire composition style, and getting a more accurate translation of what the Chinese do. I find that the English seems sloppy because I’m trying to be precise and foreign in my grammar as I’m learning. It’s all about the unique English vocabulary!

When considering online courses, I think it’s important to really understand how such programs work. As I was learning the language, I decided that I liked the Chinese system because it gave me clearer information and was more accurate. I decided that it wouldn’t give me enough time to spend with the professors to learn about writing habits. I had about 10 months of it, and I wasn’t able to take the practice classes over the summer. I loved the professional development of all the topics included, but wasn’t able to get much out of the other half of my time. As a result of the time that I spent, I’m now learning to speak more like a Chinese person. It’s a huge skill, and was something that I now consider beyond my Chinese learning ability. I realized that it took a much larger amount of effort on my part than I knew at the time.

Another word is feedback. English is inherently written, whereas Chinese is spoken, and you learn a lot more from getting more of a glimpse of the system of text than in just a series of vocab lessons. I learned English because it’s the norm in my family. This means that learning Russian, for example, is like going against my culture. I like talking and knowing language, and the bits of information and pronunciation I did get from the college opportunities that I was given to understand other languages didn’t compare. On the other hand, I found that I actually learned more from studying Mandarin in this particular program than from studying Russian.

And finally, when it comes to online learning, if you have severe health issues, it’s important to monitor what your body can and cannot handle. Do not rush into learning a language you are afraid of. No matter what language you want to learn, always know how much you can handle on a daily basis. Otherwise you will make yourself sick! Do not jump at the first course or app that comes along. Do your research, and choose the course that suits your health. Also remember that not all language learning is the same. For instance, in some online programs a dual language mode is offered which involves your students being able to take the language program alongside your language. This way, you’re getting four years of learning for two. When I was learning Mandarin, you’d be preparing for three semesters of study, and then finishing the rest of your year in the field with hands-on learning. When I was taking Russian classes, the program that I was studying was very similar to a professional development seminar, so you’d be going with your instructor for the next two years.

As a teenager, I never thought I’d end up in the world of English, and everything about this world has changed. I became obsessed with all the history that I could learn about English in one sitting. I wanted to read the entire English language directory of books and learn every word that could be used in English. I chose to take a course on dialect because I liked the elegance of the phrase in Chinese and the better way to use a single word. It turned out that I had to learn to edit words. I just started adding the terminology to my English composition style with students, and the more that I learned, the more natural it felt. Ultimately, I realized that language learning isn’t about writing. It’s about recognizing the language in general, and how you can use it in ways that are universal, and helps you not only memorize a new language, but recognize it in a different context and in different people. In fact, when I first started learning Chinese, I wrote very crisp sentences with impressive

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