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"One-to-Three eTA Project" with Pacific Ridge School
An Alternative Solution for Local School Mandarin Chinese Classes with Financial Restraint
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.

Background

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.

Results
- 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.