Peer Speaking Reviews
WoJiaoJamesJuly 30, 2010, 08:22 PM posted in General Discussion
Not sure if this has already been discussed, but is there anyone else who would like to see an option for peer reviews of speaking exercises on ChinesePod?
I've been doing a little studying at LiveMocha recently, and while the content and learning structure does not hold a candle to ChinesePod, the best feature is being able to record yourself speaking, and then submit it for review by the community. LiveMocha allows only native and fluent speakers of the language to review, so while I know ChinesePod has different levels / rules, perhaps advanced and fluent subscribers could be persuaded to volunteer as reviewers in our case.
Personally I find it a great way to gain confidence - ChinesePod is by far the better product, but until I started to submit my recordings to the wider world I had that doubt in my head that I just sounded awful. It's done me the world of good, and in the context of online learning it's an extra step towards the most complete learning tool.
WoJiaoJamesJuly 31, 2010, 09:47 PM
LiveMocha does work on the principle that only native and fluent speakers of the language review. They also offer incentives for those able to review, i.e. you gain points for reviewing submissions, and a certain amount of points gained (with positive feedback) unlocks all basic and intermediate lessons in any of the 35 languages available.
For this to work in ChinesePod will mean some creative thinking. So here goes just one way of it possibly working....
- Perhaps only those subscribed to Advanced and Media lesson sets could be reviewers. This would go some way to assuring quality feedback is given, and reviewees can be part of the quality assurance by rating their reviews / reviewers. Maybe if the speaking submissions are limited to Basic and Elementary lessons, that would lessen the burden of work, and would help to ensure the submissions are basic enough to be reviewed by fellow students with no fear of compromising the high quality of the actual lessons (a policy guideline stating this can be displayed and agreed to before submission).
- If I were good enough to be a reviewer, I would also require some kind of incentive to be drawn to the work. Perhaps a points system could be devised, where gaining a certain number of points means rewards (i.e. a free month's subscription, or multiple months, or a Praxis pass for those who have achieved the most reviews). These examples seem to be fair and attainable for those who want to stay as part of the ChinesePod community and improve their skills.
This is one idea, where those close enough to attaining fluency are incentivized into reviewing work. I'm trying not to put a heavier burden on ChinesePod staff, and i'm hoping this will have only a positive effect on the quality of the lessons. I'm teaching you how to suck eggs when I say this, but writing chinese is very different to speaking it, and I think this is an idea that could really help gain ChinesePod an even bigger audience, including those who doubt the effectiveness of online learning.
Thanks for your reply and putting some thought into this. I'm for this idea but am going to play the devils advocate just so we can spot any potential pitfalls and then see how we can get around them. Ok, you suggest:
"Perhaps only those subscribed to Advanced and Media lesson sets could be reviewers"
...I am subscribed to both Advanced and Media lessons. In fact I listened to my first Advanced lesson when I was still a brand newbie less than 1 month in. The point being is that anyone can subscribe to whatever level they want. There is however level testing on the site. That could perhaps be used. I do wonder how many Poddies there are on the site who are at Advanced or Media level..approaching fluency as you say. I'm under the strong impression there are some,but also under the impression that it's not many. Whether those at that level will have teaching level ability is another question. What type of review is generally given? I mean I think it would be easy to give feedback on what you understood and what you didn't. Accurately commenting on tones and the finer points of pronunciation would be a different matter. What's a typical review entail? I agree there'd have to be an incentive.
Point taken - I also had a look at an advanced lesson (although I didnt subscribe to the set) early on. So, one way of ensuring quality might be for the level testing you mentioned to be used, or even a whole new test where potential reviewers take a 2-part test prior to being called a reviewer: part 1 involves writing a short (1 page) story in mandarin, part 2 is reciting a pre-set passage from a book (or a poem, you get the general idea, something that a computer programme can have already judged to see if your pronunciation is adequate). A high pass mark means someone is good enough to be a reviewer.
General reviews on this other site are short, they pick out which words the person has spelt wrong, or sometimes the reviewer leaves an audio review. I think it needs to be made clear that this is not necessarily a teaching part of the program, nor is it up there with the quality of the main CPod feeds, but rather a way for newbies to engage with more advanced members of the CPod community and gain confidence. Having said that, the level of fluency does need to be sufficiently high for this to work.
Jenny, John, anyone else....what are your thoughts?
part 1 involves writing a short (1 page) story in mandarin
...this might wear away at that incentive part,hehe
something that a computer programme can have already judged to see if your pronunciation is adequate)
...such a programme would be an awesome addition....but if it's good enough to decide if the reviewers are good enough then wouldn't we only need such a computer programme instead of reviewers?
they pick out which words the person has spelt wrong
...that shouldn't be too hard
Hmmmm....i'm getting someone to write an essay so they can review other people's work for nothing. Kinda puts people off the idea, I guess.
Just trying to throw ideas around - there's got to be quality control, so there has to be some kind of test. Maybe limiting the time / effort being put in is a good idea.
So, another possible plan is for 2 automated tests: one for writing, where a pre-written passage has some errors in it which potential reviewers need to correct. Then, without knowing whether they have picked up all the errors, there's another task to recite the passage. If all errors have been picked up, high marks are achieved. If errors have been missed, however...
Just had the idea now, but it seems like a less-time-intensive way of knowing whether someone would make a good reviewer. And it doesnt require any extra monitoring from CPod staff, other than the initial setup.
bodaweiAugust 01, 2010, 06:05 AM
I'm not sure why you'd want to 'record yourself speaking' - a rather sterile/artificial environment with not much potential for learning. But you could use Skype for example to communicate with native speakers. Maybe a Group could be created on ChinesePod to organise such a venture?
Bodawei - I can see why you might think it is artificial, but in the absence of a native chinese speaker available to me, recording myself and being peer reviewed on my submission has been a great confidence builder. Sterile? I suppose there is something rather clinical about sitting down and talking into a microphone, but it's no more sterile than writing out a dialogue passage or doing exercise drills. I know it's not for everyone, but no-one's saying it's a compulsory part of the program.
I'm speaking from my own experiences - i've enjoyed great progress with CPod over the last couple of months, and the doubt in my mind about 'sounding' right has diminished after using LiveMocha's speaking exercise.
I think CPod already offers communication with native speakers, but I dont want to increase the burden on staff. Neither am I advocating a group call meeting for a set time.
I think Baba is right about the difficulties involved in mimicing the Livemacho facility on CPod. There is probably an immense pool of native speakers on Livemacho more than willing to lend a hand, so why not stick to Livemacho for this sort of practice ? There are other things which CPod doesn't do, so why not treat it as one of several resources rather than expect it to be all-encompassing. There should be no problem submitting readings from CPod on Livemacho, I don't think you'll be breaking any copyright laws. Could be wrong, though. Oooer !
LiveMacho sounds better :0)
I'm guessing that when CPod started out, it was with a much smaller product line than it now has, so i'm guessing when Ken Carroll looked for feedback some time ago on what CPodders thought of LiveMacho, he was looking to generate this kind of discussion.
I'm also guessing that, like any company wishing to grow further, Praxis are looking into how they can expand CPod's product line. This idea shouldn't be so outlandish to Praxis as it may sound to some.
I think of CPod as my main learning tool for Chinese, with several others (a mixture of books, internet radio, newspapers and grammar guides, plus LiveMacho) as my other resources. I think CPod lacks an audio channel, so i'm looking for a way to fill the gap.
Oh dear. My hearing isn't what it used to be, you know. I've also had problems with Anki in the past.
pretzellogicAugust 01, 2010, 04:44 PM
wojiaojames, I'm curious about what specific feedback you received from the LiveMocha community, as well as how you were able to address the problems the community might have pointed out to you.
Are you in China? When you speak with local Chinese do local Chinese corroborate your feelings of improvement? Do they now tell you your Chinese is really good after a few minutes of speaking with you, instead of after the first sentence after you say "Nǐ hǎo"?
I'm interested because to me it seems the Live Mocha idea is a really good one, and i'm wondering if its worth incorporate into an already busy schedule.
I've used LiveMocha for writing practice. You get a lot of feedback--the problem is figuring out who knows what the hell they are talking about. Even native speakers will let things slip...and no two native speakers will let the same things slip.
I found a very good friend or two on Live Mocha with whom I chat from time to time on MSN or QQ. That alone made it well worth the (free) price I paid for admission.
Anything that allows speaking practice is bound to be helpful. This is good to know.
a1pi2, how do you decide which person to believe when you get feedback from people that differs from each other?
Hi pretzellogic, i'm not in China, i'm in San Diego where getting the courage to speak to Chinese people is a luxury rather than a necessity. They are in short supply here, still around but not so attainable.
It's worth re-stating that i'm under no illusions this would be an add-on service, and the quality of feedback will never be the same compared with native speakers. Unless there is a not-yet-explored way of getting native Chinese to do the feedback without reducing CPod's profit margins, i'm running on the impression that advanced subscribers will be engaged, and their feedback will be adequate for a newbie / elementary person speaking their first few lines of Chinese.
I remember the first time I tried using my few words of Chinese in restaurant in Cambridge MA, I totally screwed up want I wanted to say. I totally understand about the courage thing.
I think the interesting thing is that there are plenty of people at high enough levels willing to post a couple lines here and there, but there don't seem to be enough willing to commit to more than that. Maybe it's fear of the unknown, or we're all committment phobes.
It's probably more that there's no real incentive. If there was a rewards system that made it attractive to engage in asynchronous audio dialogues with newbies and elementaries, without reducing CPod's core business, i am sure there would be takers.
I know it's a big ask, but if you dont ask you dont get....thanks for all the replies folks.
bababardwanJuly 31, 2010, 12:23 AM
I like the idea in principle. I'm having a little trouble seeing it working here in practice. I've heard of LiveMocha but never got around to checking it out, so I'm not sure how it works there. Would I be right if I guessed that worked on Language exchange? I think on this site the crux is as you say it needs:
<i>"only native and fluent speakers of the language to review"</i>
..and while there are some native speakers here from time to time, I think they are generally only here on a 7 day trial [though would be happy to be corrected on this] and are generally looking for language exchange [and I don't think there has been set aside an area on the site for language exchange to my knowledge..though once again happy to be corrected]. I don't think the staff here have time for that, and it would be consided a guided and above service anyway. Most Chinese posts on this site go uncorrected, so I wouldn't be too optimistic about having audio corrected. I'm not trying to pooh-pooh the idea. As I said, I agree it would be a bonus. Having raised my doubts though I'd love to hear how you think it could work though as I would like to see it work too. At the very least, thanks for raising it. :)