We are creating some awesome events for you. Kindly bear with us.

Online Method Makes It Easier To Learn The Chinese Language

Synchronous Chinese Online Language Teaching SCOLT

Learning another language can take years of commitment and effort. However, a new online learning innovation that pairs students face-to-face with native speakers is helping to speed up progress.

This initiative tailors learning to the learner’s needs, lifestyle and level.

According to a recent press release, findings on the Synchronous Chinese Online Language Teaching (SCOLT) pilot project were recently presented by linguistics expert and international authority on distance language learning, Professor Cynthia White.

About the Initiative

  • The project is a partnership between New Zealand’s Massey University’s School of Humanities and the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU).
  • It is also part of a joint research centre in applied linguistics which launched two years ago.
  • The concept is based on tutorials, which bring together a trainee Chinese language teacher from BLCU and a Chinese language learner from Massey University in a series of one-to-one online language practice tutorials.
  • Students and tutors reflect on the process after each of the tutorials. These reflections, as well as recordings of the sessions themselves, have become data for investigation in this under-researched area.


The SCOLT method offers numerous advantages. It allows for personalised, recordable and flexible learning as sessions can be timed to suit the schedules of student and tutor.

Other advantages of the one-on-one approach include increased confidence in language learners to speak and not be inhibited by others as they might in a classroom situation.

They also receive targeted feedback to address specific areas they want to improve on, or are having difficulty with, and can replay recordings to review their progress, iron out mistakes and practice after the session.


Students taking part in the trial particularly liked being able to speak with a native speaker of Chinese because the teachers find the right level for the student.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Catalyst seeding has funded the development of the project with BLCU.

Another successful tool used in the trial was the use of photos to prompt natural conversation involving questions and the chance to learn new vocabulary.

The approach is both structured and natural, with the possibility of authentic conversation to flow as the rapport develops between tutor and learner.

While there are many digital apps for language learning, the key issue is people’s willingness to learn and finding a way that suits their needs.

Hopefully, this method can be adapted to other languages.

Professor White was joined by doctoral students Dai Chujie and Huan Huang in a presentation to government and education sector professionals at the New Zealand China Friendship Society in Wellington recently.

The students’ research is exploring aspects of the role of communication dynamics, such as verbal cues and responses, facial expressions and body language in online learning scenarios.

Send this to a friend