INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATIVE MODEL OF ONLINE CHINESE COURSES SHIH-CHANG HSIN, CHING-WEI WANG & YU-HUI HUANG

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1 INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATIVE MODEL OF ONLINE CHINESE COURSES SHIH-CHANG HSIN, CHING-WEI WANG & YU-HUI HUANG Abstract This research project attempts to build a new cooperative model with the superintendents of school districts of various states in the United States. The idea behind the project is based on the urgent need of Mandarin Chinese courses in middle school level in the US. Since most school districts encounter the problem of not having enough Chinese teachers or teaching resources, offering Chinese courses through internet videoconferencing from Taiwan could be a feasible solution. This project involved some aspects including teaching materials design specifically for online instruction, communication with schools and their teachers/students, teacher s training for synchronized online instruction, e-learning platform and facilities arrangement, and problem solving along the implementation process. The program has been implemented during the year of We have cooperative agreements with five schools districts in different states and have established a workable operation model for this international cooperation. Through this cooperative model, American students gain the benefit of learning resources through internet, and Mandarin educators and researchers in Taiwan also gain new insights on how to promote the Chinese language learning in the global community. Keywords: Teaching Chinese as a second language, American Middle Schools, Online Mandarin Courses, e-learning, International Cooperation International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing 8 (2014) Supplement: DOI: /ijhac Edinburgh University Press 95

2 Shih-Chang Hsin, Ching-Wei Wang and Yu-Hui Huang background This research project attempts to build a cooperative model of Online Chinese language teaching with the superintendents of school districts of various states in the United States. The idea behind the project is based on the urgent need of Mandarin Chinese courses in middle school level in the US. Since most school districts encounter the problem of not having enough Chinese teachers or teaching resources, offering Chinese courses through internet videoconferencing from Taiwan could be a feasible solution. Due to the rise of Asia, especially China s tremendous economic growth and emergence as a social and political leader in the region, the urgency of equipping American students with the abilities to demonstrate a functional proficiency has been recognized by national security and business leaders, educators and foreign language experts. In 1990, student enrollment in US public high schools Mandarin courses was only 6, In 2004, the College Board conducted a national survey, and 2,400 schools expressed interest in offering the Chinese Advanced Placement (AP) Course and Examination. 2 Soon after that, a series of projects have been launched to prompt the growth of the Chinese field. In 2006, Advanced Placement (AP) Course and Examination in Chinese Language (Mandarin) and Culture began to be offered nationally to high schools by the College Board. Wang provided a detailed description about the impacts of projects such as the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI) of 2006, the Language Flagship programs, the State Department s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), and the 100,000 Strong initiative launched by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010 as well as the Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) by US Department of Education program under NSLI funding K-12 foreign language program, and STARTALK, currently run by National Security Agency (NSA), which aims at improving the teaching and learning of ten strategically important critical foreign language. 3 These heavy stimulus programs which were injected into the Chinese field led to the rapid growth of students enrolling in Chinese in grades K-12. According to a survey conducted by American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) in 2007, the student enrollment in grades K-12 for Chinese was 59,660, or only 0.67% of all US students. In terms of growth rate, ACTFL survey shows that from to , Chinese had the largest percentage growth, increasing by 195%. 4 In this trend of the steady and rapid growing interest in learning Chinese among American youth, the professionals of Chinese language fields began to show concern about the fact that the current infrastructure to support recruitment of students and teachers is inadequate. This problem is most clearly addressed in a meeting on Expanding Chinese Language Capacity in the United States What it would take to have 5 percent of American high school students learning 96

3 An International Cooperative Model Chinese by 2015? held by Asia Society to address the issue of the disparity between need and limited capacity for teaching Chinese language in It was proposed in the meeting that in order to build the infrastructure to support a K12 pipeline of Chinese language learners that can meet the national needs, supply of Chinese-language teachers must be created, the number and quality of school programs must be increased, and appropriate curriculum, materials, and assessments, including technology-based delivery systems must be developed. 5 Some of the major obstacles for building this infrastructure lies in the current teacher training system. For example, the responsibilities of teacher preparation falls upon the shoulders of College of Education, yet the expertise in Chinese language teaching and learning may fall on the shoulders of faculty members in the College of Humanities, or Arts and Science. Second, many of the experts who are preparing Chinese language teachers are foreign language pedagogues who do not know Chinese. Although Chinese is not unique, it does require special considerations in pedagogy that are not easily transferable or applicable from teaching an Indo-European language. 6 In response to these concerns, in an article entitled The Preparation and Development of Chinese Language Teachers: The Era of Standards, Everson formulates six standards for Chinese teachers based on the Program Standards for the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers developed by ACTFL in conjunction with NCATE. (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) 7 Standard 1: Language, Linguistics, Comparisons, whereby teacher candidates must show evidence of attaining a high degree of proficiency in the target language, as well as an understanding of the linguistic systems and a knowledge of the similarities and differences between the target language and other languages; Standard 2: Cultures, Literatures, Cross-Disciplinary Concepts, whereby candidates demonstrate their understanding of perspectives that explain target language culture products and practices, and the role of literary and cultural texts in explaining the perspectives. This standard also incorporates knowledge from other disciplines into their instruction, pointing out how this knowledge can only be gained by learning it in the target language; Standard 3: Language Acquisition Theories and Instructional Practices, whereby candidates demonstrate their understanding of second language acquisition theory pertaining to learners of different ages, and their ability to apply SLA theory to create classroom environments facilitative to acquisition. Candidates will also show evidence that their instruction addresses the needs of a variety of learners and that their instruction is outcome-based; 97

4 Shih-Chang Hsin, Ching-Wei Wang and Yu-Hui Huang Standard 4: Integration of Standards into Curriculum and Instruction whereby candidates demonstrate the ability to incorporate national and local standardsbased curriculum and instructional planning, and using these frameworks as a basis for choosing instructional materials; Standard 5: Assessment of Languages and Cultures whereby candidates demonstrate the ability to use multiple assessment types appropriate for different ages and proficiency levels, with the ability to reflect upon and evaluate test results so as to appropriately guide instruction and intelligently report the results to stakeholders; Standard 6: Professionalism, whereby candidates strive towards professional improvement in their language/cultural skills as a lifelong goal, and become staunch advocates for themselves, their colleagues and their students, all members of the foreign language community. At the same time, the advance of the technology which led to the increasing popularity and accessibility of the Internet and Internet-based technologies is also changing the K-12 education rapidly. 8 According to a recent survey by U.S. Department of Education, in , there were approximately 1,816,500 enrollments taking online courses in K-12 school districts. 9 The rapid growth of online learning in the past 10 years has given middle grades and high school students greater access to academic courses than ever before. There has also been increasing attention paid on what constitutes a quality online course. The understanding of what is required to be an effective online teacher and how to design an online course has deepened significantly. 10 Equally important, education leaders and teachers have gained greater understanding of the attributes of today s students, who have access to and can use technology to pursue opportunities and information never before available to them. Currently, inacol was chosen to fully endorse the work of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Quality Online Course Standards as a comprehensive set of criteria. The standards as identified by SREB, already in use by sixteen SREB states, proved to be the most comprehensive and included guidelines set forth in the other criteria from the literature review. 11 It is in this context that the current international model of online Chinese Courses for American high school was created. i. the objectives of the international cooperation for online chinese course The needs of American high schools for Chinese Language courses as addressed in the 2005 Asia Society meeting on Expanding Chinese Language Capacity in the United States What it would take to have 5 percent of American high 98

5 An International Cooperative Model school students learning Chinese by 2015? and the obstacles for teacher training and other infrastructures caused by the current education system lead to the current project which proposes that offering Chinese courses through internet videoconferencing from Taiwan could be a feasible solution. The objectives of this international cooperation project are threefold: 1. Developing distance learning teaching materials with proper topics & contents for Chinese language courses to be offered in American Middle Schools. 2. Training Chinese language teachers the skills needed for teaching videoconferencing classes. 3. Developing effective language pedagogy and activities for synchronized and asynchronized distance teaching. 4. Developing multimedia materials for long-distance Mandarin Courses. The initial contacts with several American school districts receive positive feedback and consequently we have signed cooperative agreements with five school districts in different states and have established a workable operation model for this international cooperation project. The districts that showed interests to our projects are: Washington County Public School District, Boston Public School District, San Antonio Independent School District, Charlottesville City School District, and Quakertown Community School District. In the Agreement of Cooperation and Assistance for Intermediate and High-intermediate Level Internet-based Mandarin Courses, it is stated that These school districts agrees to collaborate with our research team named VC Chinese (Video-conferencing Chinese) under the Graduate Institute of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language at the National Taiwan Normal University, to develop teaching material for Intermediate and High-intermediate Level Internet-based Mandarin language courses aiming for AP Chinese Language and Culture Exam, which is a part of the research project funded by the National Science Council in Taiwan. The duration this cooperation agreement was from August 1 st, 2011 until Dec. 31 st, The collaboration involves the following items: (1) Providing information of current Mandarin curriculum such as both online and regular teaching material being used, the syllabus, and related information (2) Providing assistance in assessments of student outcome of current Mandarin courses and interviews with instructors (3) Providing all possible assistance in testing new teaching material in the actual online classroom-setting of one or more high schools of this district 99

6 Shih-Chang Hsin, Ching-Wei Wang and Yu-Hui Huang Figure 1. The Cooperation Model. (4) Providing feedbacks on both the teaching materials and the performance of the instructors trained by our research team. from students taking or testing these courses ii. the cooperation model As this project involved several aspects including teaching materials design specifically for online instruction, communication with schools and their teachers/students, teacher s training for synchronized online instruction, e-learning platform and facilities arrangement, and problem solving along the implementation process, a cooperation model for fulfilling all these tasks was designed to implement this project. The head project and the four sub-projects formed a well-functioned team named Video-Conferencing Chinese (VC-Chinese). The VC-Chinese team already has been operating together for the past several years for a variety of research projects funded by National Science Council with the purpose of teaching distant Chinese courses for college level. It has accumulated rich experience for L2 Chinese in college level with Japan s university. 12 The team has established collaboration with some universities in Germany, Korea and the US for cross-cultural discussions between native Chinese tutors and foreign learners. 13 Since the target learners of this project are not college students 100

7 An International Cooperative Model but high school students, the team has collected information about teaching environment of high school level of the States and conducted analysis in terms of current high school Chinese textbooks, Chinese courses, classroom pedagogy and students language learning approach. In the early stage of the project, subproject 3 has conducted a series of research about foreign language policies of certain American High schools as well as settings for online courses and foreign language classroom environment in American high schools. An actual field investigation was also made for a detailed survey the lab equipment and the settings of the foreign language classroom which was usually shared by classes of multiple foreign languages at the same time. The results of the needs analysis provides the accurate guidelines for instructional materials development, online activities design, asynchronized exercises, as well as our teacher training for online pedagogies. iii. implementation of the international project of online chinese courses The program has been implemented during the year of The outline of the 4-volume curriculum for American high school online Chinese Course were drawn out and the first volume has been completed and tested. A pilot online Chinese course for Shenendehowa Senior High School in New York State was taught. The course was taught for 14 weeks from February until June of The teacher and the students met online for 2 hours a week. The students had to work on the asynchronized online activities either under the supervision of high school foreign language coordinator or at home for 2-3 hours every week. Some of the pre-course preparation, on top of the preparation of curriculum and the selection and training of online Chinese teacher on the Taiwan side, include investigation of the classroom setting of American online classrooms, coordination with American high schools about schedules and teachers, ensuring the equipment and software are properly installed on computers of both sides, and loading both synchronized and asynchronized teaching materials on the platform. The software used for the synchronized classes is Adobe Connect. Through this pilot program, American high school students gain the benefit of learning resources through the internet from a teacher teaching in Taiwan. The excitement helped to ease the tension caused by the difficulties of learning Chinese language. The Mandarin educators and researchers in Taiwan also gain new insights on how to promote the Chinese language learning in the global community. For example, one of the main achievements of our project so far is the completion of the first volume of online Chinese course as well as a detailed alignment charting the corresponding relationship between the material and the 101

8 Shih-Chang Hsin, Ching-Wei Wang and Yu-Hui Huang Figure 2. Synchronic On-line Chinese class in Adobe Connect. 5 C Model of ACTFL and some local standards for curriculum. This effort to make the online Chinese Course curriculum to meet the standards set by American high school system signifies a big leap in the globalization of Chinese curriculum in Taiwan. Although the Chinese language teachers trained by the Graduate Program of Chinese as a Second Language meet all of the ACTFL standards as well as the Program Standards for the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers mentioned above, until a more full-scale, international cooperation that can work out a model to deal with teacher certification and licensing issues, the number of online Chinese classes that we can offer to the American mainstream education system will remain limited. iv. keys to the success of the international cooperation model Although some of the objectives were met but for other objectives, some key issues still remained to be solved until the online Chinese language courses can be implemented in large scale. The following analysis will demonstrate the keys to the success of this international cooperation model. 102

9 An International Cooperative Model 1. Clear decision-making System As American high school classroom setting as well as the operation of online-education is a new field for some members of the VC-Chinese research team, after the initial information was collected, many issues also surfaced in the implementation process. To coordinate curriculum team and teachertraining team to meet various challenges along the whole term of the project, the head-project, after charting out the model, also needs to respond to the changing situation and direct the entire team to reorient according to the needs of American high schools in a timely and efficient manner. 2. A strong team with diverse cultural backgrounds and specialties The VC-Chinese is a solid research team with many experienced scholars of various specialties including technology and Mandarin online-education, Chinese language pedagogy, Second Language Acquisition, teacher training, and Chinese Thoughts and Culture. Most of the scholars in VC-Chinese research team have abundant international experience in Mandarin Education systems and several of them received their Ph.D. degrees in the United States 3. Program for teacher training courses, internship, extra training Most of the VC-Chinese Team members are currently faculty of the Department of Chinese as a Second Language at National Taiwan Normal University. This department is jointly formed by the Graduate Program of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language founded in 1995 and the Department of Chinese Language and Culture for International Students established in In the curriculum of the Graduate Program of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language, on top of the regular Chinese linguistics, pedagogy, and second language acquisition courses, online-education courses are also an essential part of the curriculum. Therefore, many seed online teachers of this project already have online education training and experience prior to the online teacher training workshops held by sub-project Graduate student pool of teachers from global community The online teachers trained for this program also proved to be a key element for the success of this project. The Graduate Program of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language have recruited plenty of international students and have trained them to be Mandarin teachers since Therefore, the pool of teachers available for online training includes native speakers of English from the United States. Due to their own education background that are similar to American high school students, they became perfect candidates for online Mandarin seed teachers who in turn shared their experience with other teachers. Their long-term learning experience in Taiwan in the Graduate Program of Teaching Chinese 103

10 Shih-Chang Hsin, Ching-Wei Wang and Yu-Hui Huang as a Second Language also make them the ideal quality teachers that meet the Program Standards for the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers. 5. Willingness to communicate and adapt to the collaborating parties needs In order to provide the most current information about class schedule and other information needed for curriculum design and teacher training, sub-project 3 has to work with the American side closely regardless of the time difference. On the other hand, the parties, including the private certified providers of online Mandarin courses has to make time to communicate and listen to the needs on the Taiwan side. 6. Scheduling, time zone, institutional differences. The time difference between Taiwan and the States ranges from 12 to 15 hours. The spring semester in Taiwan starts in early February (due to Lunar New Year Vacation) and ends in mid-june but the American high schools starts in January and ends in May. Scheduling proves to be a very challenging task. 7. Flexible maneuver with the American K-12 education system with the assistance of private Certified providers of online Mandarin courses VC-Chinese team would like to express its gratitude to MyLanguage 360, a private certified provider of online Mandarin courses for supporting this project and offered tremendous help in multiple areas such as help facilitating communications with American high schools and providing valuable experiences such as Standards for Curriculum and Teacher Training as well as sharing technology experience. v. discussion This international cooperation model is successful in creating highly functional options available to meet the needs of Mandarin Education of the American high schools. The final assessment of the online class shows magnificent learning outcome as almost every student in this online class can express themselves fluently on certain designated topics such as greetings, inquiry of information, expressing time and numbers, assigned by the Mandarin teacher for five minutes. This outcome is remarkable even compared to the outcomes obtained by students learning Mandarin in a traditional classroom setting. The area in which more issues remains to be address is teacher certification. In spite of the initial positive responses that we have received from the U.S. school districts and some new online teacher certification programs available to Chinese language teachers residing in areas other than the United States, the obtaining of U.S. teaching certification remains a challenge, especially for graduate students 104

11 An International Cooperative Model obtaining degrees on teaching Chinese as a Second Language. As early as 2005, it was pointed out in the Asia Society meeting that lack of teachers is the key bottleneck to building capacity in Chinese. 14 Short-term approaches such as use technology and multimedia to supplement the shortage of fulltime Chinese teachers, and long-term approaches such as encouraging higher education institutions to invest in full-length teacher preparation programs were both proposed. However, until now Chinese Language professionals and experts in the United States still continues to voice their concerns about the current teacher certification or licensure for K-12 teachers which poses a national problem for the supply of a wide variety of Chinese language teachers meeting the identified needs. Until a more flexible teacher certification system is available, even outstanding teachers trained in the target language countries will only have limited abilities to help meet the needs of Chinese education in American high schools. end notes 1 Moore et al (1992) Introducing Chinese into High Schools: The Dodge Initiative, Washington, DC: Johns Hopkins. 2 Asia Society (2005) Expanding Chinese Language Capacity in the United States: What would it take to have 5% of high school students learning Chinese by 2015? V. Stewart and S. C. Wang. Meeting Report, April 12, New York: Asia Society. Available: 3 Wang, Shuhan C. (2012) Sustaining the Rapidly Expanding Chinese Language Field, Journal of Chinese Language Teacher Association, Vol. 47:3, pp Wang, Shuhan C. (2012). Sustaining the Rapidly Expanding Chinese Language Field, Journal of Chinese Language Teacher Association, Vol. 47:3, pp American Councils on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) (2011) Foreign Language Enrollments in K-12 Public Schools: Are Students Prepared for a Global Society? Avaliable: 5 SeeNote2. 6 M. Everson (2012) The Preparation and Development of Chinese Language Teachers: The Era of Standards, Available: Journal of Chinese Language Teacher Association, Vol. 47:3, Everson (2003) The Preparation and Development of Chinese Language Teachers: The Era of Standards, Also see Bott-VanHouten, et al., New Directions in the preparation of foreign language teachers, National Council of State Supervisors of Foreign Languages Position Paper. Available: 8 Barbour, Michael, et al (2013) K 12 Online Distance Education: Issues and Frameworks, The American Journal of Distance Education, 27, B. Queen & L, Lewis (2011) Distance Education Courses for Public Elementary and Secondary School Students: (NCES ), U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Available: 10 Menchaca, P. Michael and Beleke, Teklu Abate (2008) Learner and instructor identified success factors in distance education, Distance Education, Vol. 29, No. 3,

12 Shih-Chang Hsin, Ching-Wei Wang and Yu-Hui Huang 11 SREB (2006) Standards for Quality Online Courses, Available: 2006/06T05_Standards_quality_online_courses.pdf. Also see inacol(international Association for K-12 Online Learning), Fast Facts About Online Learning, Available: 12 Shih-chang Hsin (2008) The Design and implementation of distance teaching- Chinese language instruction for Japanese students, Journal of Digital & Open Learning, 1 27(in Chinese). 13 Shih-chang Hsin (2012) The integration of videoconferening and multimedia website for cross-cultural communication in Chinese language, Proceedings of 10 th International Chinese Teaching Conference, Taipei:Wanjuan Publisher, (in Chinese). 14 Stewart, V. & Wang, S (2005) Expanding Chinese language capacity in the United States, New York, NY: Asia Society. Available: 106

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