Eighth grade Chinese immersion students graduating from the Chinese American International School (CAIS) are ready to begin tackling advanced-level challenges in Chinese, but they often exhaust existing course offerings after only a year or two at their new high schools. This year, CAIS is piloting a fully online course in advanced Chinese with students in grades 9-12 at The Bay School of San Francisco, one of the schools many CAIS graduates attend.
Taught by CAIS instructors, students learn and practice advanced level Chinese via online blogs and wikis, sound files, video-based instruction, and group chats facilitated through Google+ Hangouts. They tackle a variety of activities, including a Project-Based Language Learning (PBLL) unit that deals with the challenges Chinese-speaking immigrants face coming to North America. Students conduct online interviews and produce Chinese-language videos that retell their stories — efforts that will be used as learning tools for current CAIS students studying immigration issues.
This partnership aligns with Bay’s innovative approach to learning, which encourages students to be in the driver’s seat of their own education. The online course format allows students to “take responsibility to be independent in their own study with the materials posted [online],” says lead instructor Josie Kuo.
CAIS Digital Chinese Manager Adam Ross assists in instruction and curriculum design, and notes that the focus on PBLL “makes the experience of learning Chinese more immediate and relevant, as students learn about current events in the Chinese-speaking world.”