The nation is poised to capitalize on a global surge in interest in learning Chinese with a new online platform tailored to online students of the language, a Taiwanese university specializing in teaching Mandarin said yesterday.
A team of professors led by National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) has worked for nearly four years on the integrated platform project to help transform the nation into a leading force in the Chinese-language teaching market and make it more competitive with China.
“The No. 1 competitors Taiwanese teachers have in the Chinese teaching market are teachers from China,” one of the team members, Tsai Ya-hsun (蔡雅薰), said at an event to introduce several of the platform’s free, online Chinese-learning services.
Taiwan may not be able to compete against the Confucius Institute launched by China in many parts of the world, but it can use advanced technology to create some advantages of its own, said Tsai, the head of the university’s Department of Applied Chinese Language and Literature.
One of the free, Internet-based Chinese-learning programs -provided by the university is JoinNet, a government-sponsored platform that offers custom-made, synchronized services for learners who are interested in picking up commonly used vocabulary or hold conversations with university teachers.
The program is available four times per week and gives students exposure to professional teachers online during those time slots.
Lan Yu-ju (籃玉如), another professor involved in the project, said the WikiChinese Web site, launched by the university in June last year, has had more than 1,500 visitors from the US, Europe and Southeast Asia watch the 47 video clips on the site.
The videos feature situations or cultural shocks that non-Chinese speakers could face when living in Taiwan, which could be very useful for foreigners living in a Chinese-language environment, she said.
Lan said the integrated digital learning services could be a key asset for self-taught foreigners who would like to learn Chinese in their home country first, since all the materials posted online are written or edited by professional Chinese teachers.
According to the university, an estimated 100 million people are learning Chinese worldwide.