Do you use Skype for Chinese lessons?
I'd be interested to get your feedback on Skype-based Mandarin lessons. It seems to me that more and more people are using the medium. I have two questions that I'd like to hear about:
How many of you actually use Skype for Chinese class?
Which solutions do you use (other than ChinesePod!)?
Any feedback would be great.
xiaohuNovember 29, 2009, 11:16 AM
About a year ago I subscribed with e-chineselearning.com and found it to be great, while I was able to afford it. After a few months the expense got to be way too much for me and I had to stop it.
What I liked about it was the personalization, the catering to my level, the ability to ask questions and get immediate answers, even if the questions didn't pertain to the lesson.
With Skype it's exactly like having the teacher in the room with you.
The big drawback was my wireless internet wasn't very reliable, it kept dropping over and over again. When doing lessons over Skype you really need to be hardwired.
blackangelDecember 08, 2009, 04:23 PM
Greetings, I utilize skype also with Teacher Helen, every time I have the class I do video too because this way she can see if my pronunciation its not good she could tell me if it’s because I do not do the proper mouth movement like lips, mouth etc etc… since Chinese it’s a language full of sounds I strongly recommend this so it can be the most near as live one to one in person teaching experience...
So i vote for Skype :-) it’s a lot better than the phone utilization also that long distance call by phone often get interrupted or with distortion.
Best regards to Chinese Pod team ... i go in Feb to Guangzhou for short time so i cannot visit you guys but it will be the next one take care all...
kencarrollNovember 29, 2009, 02:57 PM
Agreed that the connection has to work.
I'm seeing new and interesting ways to use the medium. I've been working with the teachers here and listening into the lessons quite a bit. I'll share some in sights in the near future. In the meantime I' be interested to hear from more people.
calkinsNovember 29, 2009, 03:16 PM
I think Skype is a great tool for practicing Chinese, especially because you can incorporate audio, video, and instant messenging all at once...and get instant feedback on everything. I think the video is almost as important as the audio, as I think it's important to be able to see your teacher's mouth pronouncing the words.
One of the problems with Cpod (if you don't live in a Chinese-speaking environment) is that users almost never get to practice speaking...unless you have a guided subscription. Lack of speaking opportunity really stunts learning growth.
I've never used Skype with a teacher, but I use it with my girlfriend (we both live in Taipei, but it saves cell minutes). Even a 5 or 10 minute per day skype conversation in Chinese is a huge benefit.
I agree with xiaohu that connection can be an issue at times, but even with that minor annoyance it can be a great tool for speaking practice.
And, it's free!
markNovember 29, 2009, 03:32 PM
I do use skype, both for the CPOD guided lessons and for practice with Chinese people I have met on-line.
I find it more challenging than face-to-face communication, because of the absence of body language, and occasional distortions, though. This is less of an issue as my Chinese improves, but it was quite intimidating at first.
wei1xiao4November 29, 2009, 08:15 PM
Ken, I think you might find this interesting. My son takes Chinese at Rice University in Houston, Texas. His teacher paired each student with a student at a Chinese University. They are required to Skype each other at least once a week for language exchange. This Thanksgiving weekend he allowed me to participate in his chat with his partner. It was a lot of fun. They had a syllabus of topics they are supposed to discuss each week so they can get the conversation rolling. But it was a lot of fun with curious roomates chiming in.
fordbroncoNovember 29, 2009, 11:36 PM
Used Skype for quite a while at 1 hour * 3 days/week for private Chinese lessons, from Canada to southern China.
Occasional connection problem, usually just re-dialed and it was fine.
Having the Skype chat window opened at the same time came in handy too.
pretzellogicNovember 30, 2009, 12:35 AM
I'm not clear on what you meant by solutions, but I have the same observations as others regarding general call clarity with Skype. I haven't had to reinitiate a call on skype with Grace, but i've noticed there have been call issues with echoes/call degradation calling to the US.
Skype on a laptop has been helpful. I think that the ability of the teacher to facilitate written and verbal communication on Skype can be highly variable without some systematic training.
It would be interesting to find other ways to use skype on a mobile device like iPhone/Droid to provide non-verbal feedback realtime during Chinese calls. (this is for users for whom skype is an cheaper alternative to astronomically expensive data plans from carriers in one country but making calls to another country). Maybe if there is a way that cpod can become more device aware through its own actions,or using 3rd party plug-ins to provide easily readable text during a call on a phone.
jamestheronNovember 30, 2009, 04:00 AM
I regularly use Skype for Chinese lessons. I don't really have too much to add to what others have said. The call quality is usually good, but there are hiccups along the way, as others have mentioned. All things considered, Skype is an amazingly useful tool and the free price makes it even more remarkable.
For a couple months, I used Skype for the previous CPod Practice Plan. Now, using it again with the Guided Plan.
I also subscribe to another program for daily lessons where we use Skype video calls. I've found having the text chat capability while talking is often more useful having video.
bababardwanNovember 30, 2009, 04:21 AM
I've been working with the teachers here and listening into the lessons quite a bit.
Jeepers creepers,I never received any of those "this call may be recorded for quality control purposes" warnings at the start of my guided lessons.The Ken character in the Irish jokes I was cracking wasn't meant to be you;you do know that don't you?
Seriously though,skype is a great medium as it's free and being on the computer means there are a whole host of other capabilities that you don't get with just a landline call.For instance,the mdbg reader that tal put me onto recently does work with skype and so new vocab can be typed into skype by your teacher and you can quickly get some more insight into the new characters with the rollover.The one disappointment with skype for me is the sound quality.I do have it hardwired,have broadband connection,usb headphones that work fine with everything else,have checked the settings in skype and done the echo test calls which come back perfectly.Despite this I have very frequent dropouts or major loss of volume in my calls which makes it quite challenging.I'm not sure what else to do to improve sound quality.I'm not sure if there's something I'm specifically doing wrong or whether it's an inherent problem with skype.If this issue were resolved then I'd say skype was excellent and further exploration of the medium is a good idea.
kencarrollDecember 01, 2009, 03:07 PM
Great feedback. Seems like Skype is a hit with Mandarin learners.
So, which are the most popular destinations to go to for lessons? We do it on a fairly limited basis. Who does it on a bigger scale? Any comments?