#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…