|First Year Mandarin Chinese is taught as a series of courses in two-year community colleges and four-year universities. Students are taught how to pronounce Chinese words with correct tones, read basic information, write Chinese characters, and hold a conversation about topics in everyday life. As part of this series of courses, the student also builds up an awareness of Chinese culture. They are also foundation courses for second year courses.|
The primary reason for creating a new open textbook is that quality texts and resources, especially online versions (e-books), are simply not available to meet learning objectives. In addition, existing commercial textbooks are expensive, normally costing approximately $120 per student per academic year. Available electronic texts are not current. In general, they are scanned versions of older written texts. While there is an electronic textbook on Open Educational Resources (OER Commons) titled “Learning Chinese: A Foundation Course”, it is also a scanned textbook that uses a traditional approach for teaching Chinese. It is written in Pinyin, a Romanization system that does not teach Chinese characters. The Pinyin approach limits a student’s real introduction to Chinese and is arguably a suboptimal approach to mastering the language.
The OER BEGINNING CHINESE is an electronic textbook that is a complete, innovative program designed for first year Mandarin Chinese courses in two-year community colleges and four-year universities. The textbook meets the following criteria:
Pedagogy: in developing the OER BEGINNING CHINESE, the author consulted with the "American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Performance Description for Language Learners", "ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines (2012)" and "The 2017 NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statement". Through practical language activities classified by communication mode (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational), the e-textbook provides learner-focused and proficiency-oriented teaching/learning materials.
Teaching Approaches: The textbook employs a variety of teaching approaches, including integrated traditional grammatical approaches and modern communicative approaches. This approach offers a learner-focused approach that allows students to use the resource for self-directed learning.
Flexibility: The textbook teaches students Chinese Characters from the very beginning. The Pinyin (Romanization system) will be incorporated as support, but not as the primary focus. The beauty of the textbook is that students can select the format and access the components of the textbook that best meets their learning needs. One example of this is the inclusion of regional variations in language use. A student who is visiting mainland China will be able to choose simplified characters version, whereas a student who intends to visit Taiwan or Hong Kong will be able to transform the contents to a traditional characters version.
Online/Hybrid environment: The e-textbook caters to the needs of an online/hybrid language environment. The e-textbook is created and shared on the Google Drive platform. In addition to being embedded in Blackboard and Google Classroom, the e-textbook format will be available on personal electronic devices, such as a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone and Android.
The textbook is adopted as the instructional resource for the first year Chinese courses at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Oregon. The resources will also be useful for similar courses taught at other Oregon and national community colleges and universities.