Author Archives: Thanh Hoang Nam Le

Learning Chinese – Wrap up

My objective in learning Cantonese is that because next Summer, I will have a vacation in Hongkong where Cantonese is the main language, so being able to speak basic Cantonese for travelling purpose is what I attempt in this learning project.

During the last couples of month, I have shared with you guys the total of 7 parts of my learning project. I shared my parts in weekly basis:

Part 1: I shared my initial plan and some reasons why I chose to learn Cantonese Chinese. In this part, I identified several resources and learning network that could possibly help me learn Cantonese.

Part 2: My progress on learning Cantonese pronunciation and tones. I used Memrise as a main interactive learning tools to help me learn Cantonese pronunciation and tones.

Part 3: I documented my visit to the Confucius institute at U of R to learn of Chinese culture, Chinese cultural programs and activities that offered here, and how I found my learning buddy.

Part 4: I learned Cantonese numbers and dates. I practiced by reading out loud randomly dates from the calendar and numbers from the bingo sheets.

Part 5: I learned Cantonese greeting phrases.

Part 6: I learned how to tell directions in Cantonese.

Part 7: As I was searching for learning resources, I could see digital library and online learning resources were a big help in my learning project. However, this also had me reflect on the role of traditional library, whether the traditional library is dying because digital library and online resources are getting dominant. Also in this part, I showed to you guys some of the Cantonese grammar books that I borrowed from the library. These books would help me as I will continue my Cantonese learning after the course ended.

I found the online resources to learn Cantonese are much less than Mandarin. Even when I tried to search on several OERs, I couldn’t find any resources that really help. My subjective opinion is that OERs may mostly serve the mainstream knowledge and the subjects on some OERs that I visited need to be more varied.

I also found lots of sources on the Internet but most of them were user-created content sites and I kinda doubted about the correctness and validity of the things people posted on those sites. My solution was for one aspect of learning Cantonese, I compared between different sources of information to filter what seems to be the most reliable source that I can learn from.

Youtube was really helpful, I followed several Youtubers who had very interesting videos that teach Cantonese.

I also connected to a few Cantonese teaching Twitters.

There are a lot of aspect in learning a language. There are not just numbers, dates, tones, pronunciations, but a lot more that I didn’t have a chance to write blogs about. I decided to only document the aspects in learning Cantonese which I think most important in relation with my learning objective.

During my learning project, I was so grateful because I received lots of support from my classmates, through the comments, they gave me lots of opinions and useful ideas. Thank you all for that.

I also would like to thank professor Dr. Alec Couros for the feedback and guidance. You set a very clear expectation and objective for the major learning assignment of the EC&I 831 and that help guide me in successfully completing my learning project.

I will keep learning Cantonese and I will try to maintain this blog as a way to connect with friends and other educators.

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Learning Chinese (part 7): The roles of the digital library and online education resources versus traditional library.

EC&I 831 is nearing to an end, I have learned so much about how online resources and social media play the roles in educating students and adult learners in 21st century. However, the other day I read about this article “The next step in librarianship: Is the traditional library dead?“, the author discussed about the relationship between online learning resource and traditional library, and this article had me reflect on the belief that the information technology revolution has destroyed traditional libraries.

From the start of my learning project, a lot of my research on learning resources are from the Internet. I can feel that I depend on the Internet so much that sometimes I forget the traditional library. Sometimes I miss the old days where I usually sat in a quite corner at my University in Vietnam, with no electric gadgets, no laptop, just me being busy with tons of book on the table. However, I can see at most of the libraries that I had chances to visit, the present of computers are increasing, this can be the results of the high demand of the patrons to access to digital resources. Libraries have really undergone a transformation from a manual system to a technologically-driven system. Comparing with traditional library, digital library and online learning resources have  made acquisition, storage and retrieval of information cheaper, more efficient, and faster. However, in term of cultural role, traditional library is still irreplaceable. I will address more of this issue in my summary of learning.

At the University of Regina, I feel privileged when I have the free access to the University’s library system. When I typed “Cantonese in the search box, there were 66 results on books that help facilitate my learning.

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I decided to check out some of them and found this one which I think suitable with my Cantonese level. Fortunately, it is a digital book and I got free access to it with my UofR account.

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I also got these books:

 

As the course is nearing to an end, I might not document my learning progress anymore but I just let you all know that I will stick with these books and resources as I continue with my learning. I will try to spend at least 8 – 10 hours/ week. Hopefully, until Summer next year, I will be able to reach the initial goal I set for learning this language: be able to communicate with locals when I travel to Hongkong. I just can’t wait for this trip.

Thank you for all the comments and supports throughout my learning progress!

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Week 11: Studytracks – Study like this

Think about how easy it is to remember the lyrics of Umbrella by Rihanna or Purple Rain by Prince. Imagine now the students can remember the Start of Civilization in History or Newton’s Law in Physics. It’s totally possible because now the students have Studytracks, the app that put curriculum into catchy Hiphop songs.

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Here is one example of the study tracks in math I got from Youtube

and here is another track that teaches Straight line graph in Math.

 

Basically, all you or your students need to do is to download the app “Studytracks” available on both iOS and Android. When opening the app, you will see “Sign up” page where it has two options whether the students are taking UK or US curriculum, well unfortunately there’s currently no Canada’s curriculum but I find the lessons for each subjects in the app are quite universal and I bet every students will find something worth learning with this app.

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After you signed in, there will be a lots of options on the subjects that you want to learn through songs.

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(There are several subjects: Physics, chemistry, math, world history, geography, literature, English)

And in each subject, there are several study tracks on different topics that students can learn. They can also save or share the tracks that they like and after listening to the tracks several times, students can also take the tests to see how much they remember.

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(The more a student listens to different study tracks, the more points he/she will get)

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(There’s also lyrics that appear while the song is being played, students can remember the lessons through both listening to catchy hip-hop songs and reading the lyrics)

Advantage:

For me personally, I loveeeeeee Hiphop and when I discovered this app, I was like: “Is it the coolest thing ever?” I am not teaching but if someone asked me would I recommend this for students, I would definitely say yes because of the following reasons:

  • I observe that teenagers now are more and more keen on Hip hop and I feel this app is more like it’s tailored to this generation. Studytracks really helps to communicate what the teachers want to teach to the students in a way that students can feel comfortable and feel good when learn lessons through catchy Hip hop songs.
  • These tracks can boost students moods when they listen to them.
  • Students can listen to them on the bus, or car when they come to school…everywhere and it’s really convenient.
  • I can see the potential of Studytracks to be some sorts of professional development for teachers as it’s nice for teachers to be involved with something that’s not just the straight old normal educational stuff (Well, unless you hate Hiphop…)
  • For me even when I know that I don’t need to learn all the stuff in the app but I do listen to them when I am in the gym just because these tracks are just so good!

 

Disadvantage:

  • You need to pay a subscription fee if you want to unlock more tracks

 

Weakness:

  • I am not teaching but I would say maybe the lesson in each track does not cover enough what the students need to learn, maybe teachers can be able to assess this aspect better.

Opportunity:

  • Really hope the developers of Studytracks will develop many more subjects in other country’s K-12 curriculum.

 

Would you consider introducing learning through songs, especially by Studytracks app to your students, leave some comments, I would love to hear about your opinions. Thanks!

 

 

 

 


Learning Chinese (part 6): Directions

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(credit: angloinfo.com)

It’s me again with some progress of my Cantonese Chinese learning. As I said in previous blog, my goal in learning Cantonese is to be able to use this language when I go travel in HongKong next Summer. When learning basic Cantonese for travel purpose, next step, also the one of the most important steps is to learn how to tell directions.

At this point, I am having some difficulties in locating resources for my learning. I was introduced to OERs (Open Education Resources) a couple weeks ago, I’ve been searching for some OERs in Cantonese but I haven’t found any, most of the resources on OERs that I found are Mandarin Chinese, not Cantonese Chinese.

Fortunately, I found Quizlet, an interactive learning tool that helps the learners learn through flashcards. After each lesson, the learners have the opportunity to take tests and quizzes to evaluate their learning.

You can log in Quizlet with either your Facebook or Gmail account or use can sign up for a new Quizlet account. Basically, it’s free but if you are a teacher and you want to have upgraded benefits, you can pay a monthly fee for around $1.50/ month so you can design your own learning flashcards and quizzes for your students. As a learner, I’m good with free account.

So this is how Quizlet looks like, when I typed Cantonese directions on the “search” toolbar.

First, I need to learn the direction phrases through flashcards, there are 13 phrases in total and I have learn all of them before I can move to next step – taking quizzes and tests. While learning phrases through flashcards, I can click on the “sound icon” at the bottom of each flashcard to hear the pronunciation of that word and phrase.

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After I went through all the flashcards, I took the a quiz

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Then a test:

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I am currently following “Cantonese Couple“s Youtube channel. They make a lots of videos teaching Cantonese, I enjoy their videos a lot.

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Apart from “Cantonese Couple” I am also following MtzCherry 文車厘, she is also a well-known Youtuber in making videos of Cantonese learning.

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I am going to practice these directions phrases this week and try to find more Youtube’s videos about Cantonese directions phrases.

Thank you for reading!


Week 10: Building a culture of sharing

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(credit: The Seven Minute Scientist)

I work in the University environment and when it comes to idea-sharing, we are benefited from a well-round of idea contribution from different age groups, academic disciplines.

Within our department, ideas are collected in both formal setting like meeting rooms, round tables…and informal setting where ideas are shared down the hall, in the University’s cafeteria, even group chats on Whatsapp, Facebook messenger… This is an ideal environment, a great condition for great ideas to be developed.

For me personally, I feel more comfortable sharing ideas in an open, informal environment where I don’t have the feeling that I am being judged. I feel more anxious when I am asked to raise my ideas in a meeting room, in front of my management and co-workers. Sometimes, in such formal meetings, there’s someone whose voice is more dominant than others and he/she likely to take up the majority of time to talk about his/her ideas, this might shy away others from speaking up their ideas, especially those who are introvert and less likely to talk.

In contrast, when sharing in the informal environment, I can pick someone who I am comfortable to talk with and tell them about my ideas. We don’t have a “coffeehouse” like what Steven used in his Ted talk on our campus, but we do have “cafeteria” when we often gather together during lunch time or sometimes after-hour and to talk and share ideas.

In educational context, research shows that a collaborative network of sharing information would benefit academic performance of students, according to Thomas-Lowde (2017): “Within the research I undertook the academic performance of students who are taught by teachers who were collaborative across a wider faculty achieved higher levels of academic progression compared to those students who are taught by teachers that have less of a collaborative network”.

Through the readings and videos this week, we all recognize the benefits of sharing. However, in order to create a sharing culture, the management needs to have an empowerment approach for employees where everyone is encouraged to share ideas without the fear of being judged, all ideas are valuable and respected.

 

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(credit: drivenhire)

Recognition of employee sometimes turns into competition if the management doesn’t direct the employees towards a shared-goal  and objectivity, group recognition should be enhanced so everybody is likely willing to team up and exchange ideas among team members.  

What other strategy would you adopt to develop a culture of sharing within your own context? I would love to hear your opinions and ideas. Thank you for reading!

 


Week 9: TED Ed and English teaching for students in Vietnam

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(via techcrunch.com)

I guess most of us here used to watch at least one TED talk. Stared in 1984  with a conference, TED, a not-for-profit organization has reached a large percentage of scholars, educators, students…across the world with several related projects and events such as TEDglobal, TEDx, TEDMED…TED ED is part of these, established with the goal to “spark and celebrate the ideas of teachers and students around the world”

I would like to evaluate TED ED as one of the OERs from a micro level.

TED ED is popular in Vietnam and large population of Vietnamese students and teachers have been taking advantage of this open education resource in English learning and teaching. In some schools in Vietnam, TED ED is even put in English teaching curriculum as an required learning activities for students. Many Vietnamese students and English teachers find listening to TED ED talks help students improving in all four English skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

I can say that when I first looked at the TED ED, I was struck by how user-friendly it is. All categories are on the left and all talks are on the right. In Vietnam, the English learners range from young ages to seniors so “user-friendly” factor is important, I believe everyone can easily navigate through the TED Ed website.

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On the homepage, the learners can filter what talks they want to watch by content type: TED Ed originals, TED Talk Lessons, TED-Ed selects. Student level: Elementary/ Primary, Middle School, High School, College/ University, with this option, teachers can filter talks that appropriate and relevant to their students. Video duration. Subtitles.

TED Ed talks are not only delivered in English but also many languages across the world which serves a wide range of audience.

In Vietnam, teachers usually have students in the computer lab rooms with headphones so have them listening to TED Ed talks.

For English listening skill practices, while they are listening, students are asked to pay attention to the pronunciation, the accent of the speakers in the videos.

For Writing skill, students take note of how the speakers use sentences, take notes of any English words that they want further explanation from teachers

For Speaking skill, students are asked to watch how the speakers use gestures, the tones, pitch in voices of the speakers.

For Reading skill, at the end of the videos, students and teachers learn about new words that are used in the videos, how to use them in a sentence.

I would say the overall quality of the materials is very good, most of the videos are in HD quality, clear sounds and with many attractive graphics. This is an example that demonstrate the quality of TED Ed video.

TED Ed videos are also used widely in English classes for Vietnamese kids. Many kids love the cute and colorful animated graphics and simple content and easy to understand contents of TED Ed videos. Take a look at this one:

What I think as one of the benefits to incorporate TED Ed videos in English teaching for Vietnamese students is that at the end of the video, the students can do a small quiz to test on how much they learned from what they watched.

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I believe a great OER like TED Ed has not only been helping Vietnamese students in learning English but in a large scope, it’s been providing many learners from different fields the opportunities to get knowledge through interactive and user-friendly interface. These TED Ed videos make lectures less boring and arouse interests in students. I would love to see TED Ex is used more in classrooms across my country because I believe in TED, as a not-for-profit organization, they will be able to deliver non-biased learning contents and that’s also the goal of education.

Have you ever used TED Ed in your classroom and would like to share the experience? Can you give me some comments? Thank you for reading.


Learning Chinese (part 5): Greetings

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(via travelchinacheaper.com)

First of all I would like to clarify my goal in learning Chinese Cantonese. I don’t shoot for a star, in stead, I made it clear that next Summer I will do backpacking traveling to Hong Kong so my learning goal is that I will be able to “survive” there with my basic Cantonese knowledge. I have decided to only focus on what really essential. I don’t think I will focus too much on grammar, sentence structures all that stuff. I would rather focus on basic vocabulary, asking simple questions…so I will be able to “survive” in a Cantonese speaking region like Hong Kong.

I have done backpacking traveling to more than 15 countries so far and in every place, learning some basic greetings is essential.

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(via chinahighlights.com)

Talking about Cantonese greeting phrases there are hundreds of them, something like Hello and I’m from Canada…etc are first things I need to know. However, there are also lots of greeting phrases and I don’t know how much is enough that I need to learn. I start thinking of situations such as when I first arrive at Hong Kong airport, how should I greet people there, how should I greet and introduce myself when I arrive in my hotel, who should I greet people I meet along my trip…

This video gives many useful greeting phrases in Cantonese:

Also this:

However, I find these videos on Youtube are just about some common greetings, I think I need to learn more of the greeting phrases so I found out this site, learnchineseez.com. This site has 15 pages of Cantonese greeting phrases, that’s a lot to learn, also I can hear the pronunciation of each phrases by clicking the “play button” next to each phrases. Very convenient and easy to learn!

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I will go from here and try to practice pronouncing and remember these greeting phrases. Thank you for reading.


Week 8: Youtube – an Open Learning Community

 

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(via fortune.com)

Larry Lessig discussed “User-generated content” in “Laws that choke creativity” :” User-generated content, spreading businesses in extraordinary valuable ways like these, celebrating amateur culture. Amateur culture, a culture where people produce for the love of what they are doing and not for the money. The culture that your kids are producing all the time”.

User-generated content has become a trend with the booming of “Youtubers”. The term “Youtuber” appears on the Oxford Dictionaries as A person who uploads, produces, or appears in videos on the video-sharing website YouTube”.  There are many popular Youtube channels produced by these Youtubers. These Youtube channels showcase different learning contents ranging from cooking, make up, hair styling, fitness, language…a lot more and of course everyone can access those videos without any cost, anywhere, anytime. Most of these Youtubers are young people and together they are forming an open learning community. Youtube as a learning community encourages everyone regardless of ages to produce contents that help other people learn. With the spread of “User-generated content”, everyone can be a “guru” and “expert” at something they love to do by sharing their “how-to” videos. As a learner, I find these “how-to” videos from Youtubers allow me to better illustrate complex concepts, procedures, and ideas. I can express what I like about the videos, what I don’t understand by commenting under the videos to generate discussions and exchange ideas.

Youtube with its “User-generated content” platform provides unlimited opportunities to ehance eLearning and open education because of countless videos. You can be part of this eLearning community by creating your own videos. Students and adult learners can take advantage of this to benefit their own learning as long as they are able to locate and filter content-appropriate videos.

What other challenges  when we incorporate Youtube in open education? I would love to hear your insights and ideas about this. Thank for reading.

 

 


Learning Chinese (part 4): Numbers and dates

My learning buddy Yan suggested the next step in learning Chinese Cantonese in to learn numbers and dates so here I am with part 4 of my Chinese learning project. 

So basically, all the Chinese materials I am using are translated into Roman characters. It is recommended that as a beginner, the learners, especially those who have the first language such as English should start with Romanization system of Chinese first because, in order to read and write these ” 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九 十”, it takes years!” We, Vietnamese, use Roman characters and our pronunciation and tones are quite similar to Chinese Cantonese so this is an advantage.  

Anyway, so I first learned to count from 1 to 10, when I speak, I pay attention to the tones and pitches

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(via: proletariatfashionista’s WordPress)

 

1: yat

2: yee

3: sam

4: say

5: mm

6: look

7: chat

8: bart

9: gow

10: sup

For 11, you put 10 (sup) + 1 (yat) so 11 is pronounced as sup yat.

For 12, you put 10 (sup) + 2 (yee) so 12 is pronounced as sup yee.

For 13, you put 10 (sup) + 3 (sam) so 13 is pronounced as sup sam.

… the same thing applied to 14 – 19.

20 = 2 (yee) x 10 (sup) so 20 is pronounced as yee sup

21 = 20 (yee sup) + 1 (yat) so 21 is pronounced as yee sup yat

22 = 20 (yee sup) + 2 (yee) so 22 is pronounced as yee sup yee.

… the same thing applied to 23 – 29, and 29 – 99

100 = 1 (yat) X 100 (baak) so 100 is pronounced as yat baak 

101 = 100 (yat baak) + 1 (yat) so 101 is pronounced as yat baak yat

148 = 100 (yat baak) + 40 (say sap) + 8 (baat) so 148 is pronounced as yat baak say sap baat

1000 = 1(yat) x 1000 (cheen) so 1000 is pronounced as yat cheen

1975 = 1000 (yat cheen) + 900 (gau baak) + 70 (chat sap) + 5 (mm) so 1975 is pronounced as yat cheen gau baak chat sap mm.

I was so frustrated because, in order to pronounce some numbers properly, I had to do the math first, like 1975 = 1000 + 900 + 70 + 5 = yat cheen gau baak chat sap mm 😀

 

Dates

Day: yat (same with the pronunciation of 1)

Year: lean

Week: sing kay

Month: yoot

Date: yat kay

January: Yat (one) yoot

February: Yee (two) yoot

March: saam (three) yoot

April: say (four) yoot

May: mm (five) yoot

June: look (six) yoot

July: chat (seven) yoot

August: bat (eight) yoot

September: gow (nine) yoot

October: sap (ten) yoot

November: sap (ten) + yat (one) yoot

December: sap (ten) + yee (two) yoot

March 19th: saam yoot (March) + sap gow (19) yat (use “yat” at the end in the case of saying dates)

February 1st: yee yoot (February) + yat (one) yat

So now I know how to pronounce numbers and dates, the next step? let’s practice! So I thought of a way to practice reading numbers is to print out the bingo sheet and read out loud the numbers on the bingo sheet.

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In order to practice reading dates, I printed out the 2018 calendar and randomly picked certain dates and spoke them out loud.

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I hope I can “master” how to read numbers and dates in a few dates by keeping practicing. I will keep you guys updated on my learning progress.

Thank you for reading.