#DEULOE Learning Challenge: Mandarin Chinese

Understanding Learning in the Online Environment (ULOE) is my second course of the MSc in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. One of the tasks that compelled me to sign up for this course was a learning challenge. For the learning challenge I was tasked to choose a motor skill, one that I’ve never done before. I’ve chosen to learn Mandarin. Although 10 weeks might not be enough for me to make significant progress on this learning journey, I’m hoping to be productive, and most of all enjoy the process.

my 1st attempt to write Chinese characters

my 1st attempt to write Chinese characters

Why Chinese?

First of all, it’s for the purpose of completing the learning challenge assignment. Additionally, I cannot hide the fact that I love learning languages and I could do it all day long. I’ve picked Chinese because I’ve never tried learning a language from the Sino-Tibetan family. I’m expecting that the tonal and written systems will pose a major challenge for me. Luckily, I have a colleague who hails from Taiwan, and who promised to help me iron out difficulties. By taking on this challenge of learning some Chinese, I‘d also like to gain an understanding of why Chinese speakers seem to have difficulty pronouncing the ‘ey’ diphthong in English. Finally, Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world and this alone is a good enough reason to study the language and its culture.


I’m not going to set a specific goal of learning 1000 words, or something like that. Goals are good to have, but at the same time they may pose obstacles and add pressure, which may hinder my progress. I used to set SMART goals for everything, but this time the day-to-day process of exploring Mandarin is going to be my focus. Nowadays there seems to be a spotlight on the product goals in education, and not enough on the process ones. Can a SMART goal guarantee its achievement? This is one of the topics I’ll be exploring alongside my Chinese journey.


For the past couple of weeks I’ve spent a considerable amount of time researching and collecting self-study resources to learn Chinese. I’ll be participating in two MOOCs (Chinese for Beginners and Chinese Language and Culture), watching YouTube videos, e.g. Fiona Tan’s channel, and using FluentU, just to name a few.

My collections of resources are accessible on Pearltrees and Pinterest.

Voice Journal

Aside from this blog, I plan to keep a voice record of my learning :) I’m too shy to show my face on YouTube, so I’ve decided to start a podcasting channel on SoundCloud. Here we go…

rEALize 2015 in tweets #realize15


rEALize is a Canadian national forum for teachers of adult ESL learners. It happens in January each year, when days are short and some, if not most of Canadians, experience some degree of the winter blues.  It is then that the forum helps ESL teachers connect and have some fun, learning from the comfort of their own homes without the necessity of perhaps flying to remote locations or find parking, as described in this TESL London blog post.

The 2015 rEALize forum took place last weekend, January 23 and 24. Here’s the forum story in tweets:

Day 1  https://storify.com/yvetteinmb/realize15-day-1

Day 2 https://storify.com/yvetteinmb/realize15-day-2


Free Online #ELT #CPD in August

Webinars and web conferences in August:

6 Aug EdmodoCon
Organized by: Edmodo
8-9 Aug Reading and Writing Conference
Organized by: TESL Toronto and BELTA
15 Aug Language Skills 2.0: Speaking – Margarita Berezyanskaya
Organized by: English Online Inc.
16 Aug Language Skills 2.0: Speaking – Margarita Berezyanskaya
Organized by: English Online Inc.
http://bit.ly/1o30gXV (repeat session)
30 Aug Getting the most out of online video resources – Nik Peachey
Organized by: IATEFL

In-progress and upcoming MOOCs worth taking a look:

1 Jul – 31 Aug Summer EAL MOOC for newcomers to Manitoba
Organized by: English Online Inc.
http://bit.ly/1nN9ThK -> learning materials available for use and adaptation
20 Jul – 17 Aug iTDi Summer School MOOC for English Teachers
Organized by: iTDi
28 Jul – 22 Sep Learning to Teach Online
Organized by: University of New South Wales Australia
2 Sep – 12 Dec Open Knowledge: Changing the Global Course of Learning
Organized by: Stanford University


Finally, a couple of future ELT web conferences:

iatefl web conference 2014









http://www.myenglishonline.ca/for-teachers/realize/ -> Call for Proposals open

Free Online #ELT #CPD in July

Some webinars:

13 Jul Stop-and-go simulations in intercultural training – Akos Gerold
Organized by: IATEFL BESIG
19 Jul The Lives of English Language Teachers – Barbara Sakamoto
Organized by: IATEFL
25 Jul Webquests and Task-based Teaching – Margarita Berezyanskaya
Organized by: English Online Inc.

And some MOOCs…

30 Jun – Aug 10 e-Learning Ecologies (on Coursera)
Organized by: Uni of Illinois (USA)
7 Jul – Sep 1 Developing a Research Project (on FutureLearn)
Organized by: Uni of Southampton (UK)
28 Jul -Sep 22 Learning to Teach Online (on Coursera)
Organized by: Uni of New South Wales (Australia)

Free Online #ELT #CPD in June

7 June A Call for Human Feel in Our Increasingly Blended World – Geoff Lawrence, Ph.D.
Organized by: English Online Inc.
7 June Professional Happiness in the field of ESL – John Sivell, Ph.D.
Organized by: English Online Inc.
8 June Teacher/Student PBLA Buy-in – Angela MacMichael
Organized by: Tutela
8 June 7 tools to help better organize your business English courses – Christina Rebuffet-Broadus
Organized by: BELTA

10 June Focus on global English – Richard Cauldwell, Katy Davies & Laura Patsko
Organized by: British Council

12 June How to move into language school management – Andy Hockley
Organized by: BELTA

13 June American TESOL Webinar – Shelly Terrell
Organized by: American TESOL Institute
14 June 2nd Web Conference: IATEFL LTSIG & TESOL CALL-IS
Organized by: LT SIG of IATEFL
16 June Collaborating in the Creating of Writing Rubrics for CLB S2 – Cheryl Howrigan & Rita Zuba-Prokopetz
Organized by: Tutela
18 & 20 June How to get students writing – Zarina Subhan-Brewer
Organized by: OUP http://bit.ly/1ib3lmL
20 June American TESOL Webinar – Shelly Terrell
Organized by: American TESOL Institute
21 June ‘What’s hot, and what’s not in coursebooks?’ – Lindsay Clandfield
Organized by: IATEFL
20 & 21 June Web conferencing tools for e-Learning – Margarita Berezyanskaya
Organized by: English Online Inc.
24 & 26 June Why Critical Thinking in the Classroom is Critical – Lesley Koustaff
Organized by: OUP
25 & 27 June Solutions Speaking Challenge – Edmund Dudley
Organized by: OUP
27 June American TESOL Webinar – Shelly Terrell
Organized by: American TESOL Institute
1-30 June MOODLE MOOC 4
Organized by: Dr. Nellie Deutsch at IT4ALL

Free Online #ELT #CPD in May

3 May 1. Self-Discovery and Language Learning in the ESL Classroom and 2. rEALize15: Tune in!
Organized by: English Online Inc.
4 May Integrating Critical Thinking into Business English – John Hughes
Organized by: IATEFL BESIG
7 May Developing Essential Skills for Academic Success – Mike Boyle
Organized by: Macmillan English
8 May How to become an ELT Materials Writer – Karen Spiller and Sue Kay
Organized by: IATEFL MAWSIG

11 May All about feedback from students – Michael Griffin
Organized by: BELTA

13 May Surviving Academic Skills – Dr. Ken Beatty
Organized by: Pearson
23 May Flip Your Session with Open Access Resources  – Margarita Berezyanskaya
Organized by: English Online Inc.
24 May Flip Your Session with Open Access Resources (a repeat session)
Organized by: English Online Inc.
26 May Teaching Business English – Milka Stupar
Organized by: Tutela
24 May How to become a teacher trainer – Silvana Richardson
Organized by: British Council
31 May Motivation, Imagination and L2 Identity – Jill Hadfield
Organized by: IATEFL

Free Online #ELT #CPD Opps in April

In my corner of the world we are still experiencing sub-zero temperatures and daily blizzard warnings (ugh). In these conditions, nothing is better than a cuppa in hand and a good webinar to watch. Below is my PD lineup for April:

1-5 April 48th IATEFL Conference @iateflonline
Organized by: IATEFL/British Council
6 April Mini RSCON – The Future of Education
Organized by: Steve Hargadon
9-12 April Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference
11 & 12 April Teaching with Technology
Organized by: English Online Inc.
 16 April Using texts in the Business English Classroom
Organized by:
Macmillan English
23 April Devising Appropriate Tasks for Business English and ESP Courses
Organized by: IATEFL PL
25-27 April 7th Virtual Round Table Web Conference
Organized by: Heike Philp
26 April Best Practices in Teaching EAL (topics TBC)
Organized by: English Online Inc.