In October 2010, www.SpeakMandarin.com began a seven-month "1-to-3 eTA Project"
with the Mandarin Chinese program at the Pacific Ridge School. This was the sister
program of the "1-on-1 eTA project" SpeakMandarin.com had with the school eight
months ago. The participants, totaling 18, were from the school's two Mandarin Chinese
classes: CHIN 1&2.
The Pacific Ridge School
Opened in the year 2007, Pacific Ridge School is a private university preparatory
school for day students in grades 7-12 in San Diego, California.
SpeakMandarin.com had a successful "one-on-one eTA program" with Pacific Ridge School
in Feb. 2010. Both the teacher and the students have shown strong interest to have
this program continued. However, unfortunately, the school has a tight budget on
outsourcing class activities like this. To make the online live tutoring happen
this school year, an alternative solution was found: the session size was enlarged
from 1-on-1 to 1-to-3, in other words, it turned into a small group session; frequency
of sessions was lowered from once per week to once per month; and the session time
was shortened from 50 minutes to 30 minutes. Thus, by adjusting certain variables
of the project, both sides reached an agreement to continue the tutoring sessions
at a much lower tuition that would cost each student.
"eTA Project" Session Description
Like what was done with the "1-on-1 project", these "1-to-3 eTA Project" sessions
were also well designed to meet the goal of providing customized Mandarin Chinese
tutoring to the students. Prior to beginning the project, learning consultant from
www.SpeakMandarin.com worked closely with Ms. Shirley Chu, the Mandarin Chinese
teacher at school, obtaining detailed information of each student in aspects of
their current learning levels, language backgrounds, strong/weak points in terms
of Mandarin Chinese study, etc. The sessions also feature scenario-based, picture-illuminated
real life conversations between coach and students. Besides, relevant culture points
have also been immersed into the conversations and instructions.
What's made this "1-to-3 eTA project" different from its predecessor was that the
sessions were incorporated into the teacher's in-class activities this time, rather
than being an after class tutoring session. This was simply because it would bring
a much easier session management, in terms of logistics and quality control, for
a group class. 3 students shared one school laptop in their classroom. Each student
had his/her own headphone to listen and speak.
- Participation: since the project has been embedded into the students' school
classes, the participation rate is, to some extent, guaranteed. We anticipate full
participation rate (at least close to) all the way till the end of the project.
- Language Improvement: the students have taken several sessions so far. With
the previous 1-on-1 project as a foundation of/introduction to the online live tutoring,
both the teacher and SpeakMandarin.com have found the students taking the sessions
with more confidence and a higher level of acceptance. What's interesting was that
students seemed favor a small group session more because it allowed them to communicate
not only with the coach, but also with their classmates.
- Technology: Since the session times have been fixed and all the students needed
to do was to click a link that was sent to their email boxes in order to enter the
virtual classroom, there has been no problem with classroom entrance.