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Standard Mandarin Pronunciation (mooc)

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Another mooc. Sorry, they keep on coming!

I remember there was a discussion about standard pronunciation and standard putonghua a few months ago, this mooc seems very relevant. It starts on 18 December.


普通话实训与测试 Mandarin Training and Testing
Sichuan University (good place to learn 普通话). Instructor: 朱姝 Zhu Shu



It is for Chinese students with high school level as a minimum and it looks like it doesn't have subtitles. People who don't understand the trailer may struggle to keep up with the lectures. I'd advice doing at least the phonetics parts of 魅力汉语 (Charming Chinese) first:


On an aside note, how can they possibly say 普通话 is 中国人的“母语??? At best it would be their stepmother. The more they try, the more I like 方言

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(Part 2)

I wasn't going to sign in for this course but curiosity got the better of me. It started today and after the first week's lessons, I'm glad I signed up. Here's why

1) All videos have Chinese subtitles. They work with mouseover dictionaries in some videos, not in all, but they're all clear.

2) The 2 teachers (both female) are very clear and, as one would expect, speak perfect putonghua. They also use simple, direct language  The  presentation is really sleek and the sound quality is excellent. 

3) Today's videos had quite a few technical terms but, otherwise, the language would easily be understood by students at an HSK5 level. Maybe even lower provided they can read subtitles and have experience with listening comprehension beyond the HSK exams. The following weeks are going to focus especially on pronunciation and the language should be even easier than this week's.


I think this is going to be a fantastic mooc. 


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Update, as we're past the half way mark in this mooc.


After 3 sets of lessons, it is obvious in some parts that this is the mooc's first run. One can only start to imagine what pressure these academics are under to produce a good mooc by a set time - in addition to their normal teaching duties. Week 2 (on 声母, initials) was not as good as it could have been, but it's easy to fill in the gaps with material from other sources. Then followed a longer than expected gap between W2 and W3 (which effectively became Week 5), but whatever they did in that time, was good. Week 3 on 韵母 (medial and finals) turned out to be well worth waiting for, I learnt a lot  in an area that I had kind of overlooked before.


Some good points: 
-The main teacher is very experienced (haven't seen much of teacher 2 yet), she explains well and, as expected, has a spotless pronunciation. A slight video picture and sound offset had me distracted, wondering  whether she might have been dubbed...but no, I don't think so.


- The pronunciation descriptions on a sound per sound basis are clear, concise but fully detailed, and highlight the very key points. Sometimes there are tips on how to pronounce more accurately and tips and demonstrations on how to practice. I doubt there's any better public (and free) putonghua tuition to be found anywhere else. 


-The animations are good but I believe they wouldn't be so clear without the associated verbal instructions. The 'VR ppt' (don't know what to call them) are fascinating to watch (teacher looks like she's having a lot of fun with them too). Very impressive.


Not so good points:
- Week 2 felt a bit hurried and incomplete. The explanations for each group of initials are excellent, but there's no explanation for the individual initials within the groups, which leaves the student a bit in the air (I had to search You Tube and Baidu to patch up). I'm very sure they will upgrade this unit in a future issue, as many Chinese students also have problems with z, c, and s, I'm not alone there. 


- No handouts. It'd be good to have at least summary tables with groups of sounds and examples, it's not easy to find the right spots in the video for revision (unless one is a meticulous note-taker). Of course, they can be found somewhere else too, but why not having everything there?


- It'd also be nice if the teacher pronounced all the practice words so that students can shadow, and also to have short videos or audio clips for practice. 


It's not hard to make up for all these searching around. I'm actually glad for them now because searching for practice material I found good stuff in Ximalaya (where else?), and trying to find ways to keep 'notes' on specific points without note taking, I became acquainted with the amazing Windows 10 Game Bar, which I hadn't tried before. Anyone using it yet?


Next session in 2 (or more) weeks time will be tones. Can't wait!

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